WELLINGTON, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government announced Thursday a drastic cut in the allowance in duty-free tobacco to bring the country into line with Australia as part of its campaign to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.
From Nov. 1, the duty-free allowance would fall from 200 cigarettes to 50 cigarettes and from 250 grams of tobacco to 50 grams in line with limits set by Australia in 2012, Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia said.
"It makes sense for us to match Australia's duty-free limits for tobacco, given that nearly half of all our inbound passengers come from, or via, Australia," Turia said in a statement.
It would have been an anomaly that while the government was steadily raising tobacco duties, with two 10-percent rise over the next two years, it was also offering a duty-free allowance on 200 cigarettes to every adult arriving at the border, she said.
However, a total end to duty-free tobacco would have been impractical, she said.
"Completely removing the duty-free concessions would mean that smokers, who might have a packet or two of cigarettes on them when going through Customs, had to either dump them or declare them and pay duty. If they did neither, they would risk prosecution and seizure of the goods."
The new duty-free tobacco limit was forecast to raise 50 million NZ dollars (43.29 million U.S. dollars) in extra revenue over a full financial year.
"Although it's pleasing to see that fewer young people are taking up smoking, it still causes up to 5,000 premature deaths in New Zealand every year," Turia said.