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Tobacco, alcohol and gambling tax costing Māori over $1b a year

Tobacco, alcohol and gambling tax costing Māori over $1b a year

Tax taken from tobacco, alcohol and gambling consumption cost Māori over $1b in 2018, a report has found.

While consumption of alcohol and gambling was in line with the general population, Māori paid a disproportionate amount in tobacco tax, which researchers want to see in the hands of iwi.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report, commissioned by Dr Marewa Glover of the Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking, looked at the amount paid in excise taxes, levies and GST for Māori, Pacific peoples, Asian and European/others in 2018.

It found Māori paid $723 million in tobacco taxes, $264 million in alcohol taxes and $161 million in gambling taxes.

While total Māori expenditure on alcohol ($731m) and gambling ($376m) was proportionate to their number in the population, the Māori spend on tobacco at $1b was “disproportionately high”, accounting for 25 per cent of nationwide tobacco expenditure.

The Māori adult (15 years and over) population of 517,000 was less than one
fifth of the European/other population of 2.8m, but Māori tobacco consumption
made up just under half (45 per cent) of European/other tobacco expenditure.

“Smoking rates for European New Zealanders and Māori have slowly reduced over the last four decades in tandem, which people think is equal and fair, but this is not what equity is about.

“No Government over that time has done anything effective to reduce the disparity between Māori and non-Māori smoking.”

European New Zealander smoking rates were at 13.2 per cent, whereas for Māori it was 33.5 per cent.”

Glover said the findings were a “kick in the guts” for those working to improve Māori wellbeing.