An independent senator has hit out at what he says is a tobacco company’s “deeply cynical” move to circumvent health anti-smoking laws by selling discounted cigarettes.
Senator Nick Xenophon will push for a minimum floor price on cigarettes to counter British American Tobacco Australia’s launch of what it claims is the cheapest legal packet of cigarettes on the market at $13 for a 25-pack.
The tobacco company is blaming federal government policy for the move, saying it’s simply seeking to remain competitive as sales of cut-price cigarettes soar.
Senator Xenophon said he plans to introduce a resolution in the upper house next week to seek a minimum floor price for all cigarettes sold in Australia.
“We need to outsmart big tobacco in terms of what they’ve done with this price-discounting and loss-leading campaign,” he told ABC TV on Monday.
Senator Xenophon will consult with public health experts on the most effective disincentive price but wants to see a minimum of $20 for a 25-pack.
It was the best option to combat a “deeply cynical” campaign aimed at boosting the ranks of younger smokers, he said.
Senator Xenophon also dismissed “exaggerated” industry claims that plain packaging laws and large excises were driving up black market sales.