The only way to get enough people to quit smoking to meet government targets is to increase the tax on tobacco substantially, according to researchers at Maastricht University.
They found that cigarettes would need to cost at least €12 per pack to entice 10% of smokers to quit and some 50% of smokers say they would only quit at a price of €60 per pack.
Cigarettes in the Netherlands currently cost around €8.20 per pack and this is scheduled to rise to €10 by 2023.
The researchers asked nearly 1,500 daily smokers from the Netherlands how many manufactured or hand-rolled cigarettes they would buy and smoke in one day at eight different prices.
Dutch smokers appear willing to pay a lot of money for tobacco with one third reporting no aversion to paying even the highest price.
The researchers say this illustrates not only how addictive, but also how affordable cigarettes are.
‘People adjust their consumption when they notice the difference in their wallet, when something becomes more or less affordable,’ said UM researcher Cloé Geboers. ‘So big hikes in excise duty, like the €1 increase in 2020, are highly desirable when it comes to discouraging smoking. They have the greatest effect.’
The Nationaal Preventieakkoord, a government prevention programme, aims to bring back the number of smokers and problem drinkers to 5% and the number of overweight people to 38% by 2040.
Some 22% of the Dutch population still smoke and 35,000 people in the Netherlands a year die from the effects of smoking, being overweight or problem drinking.
In May, anti smoking lobby groups, supported by heart health charity Hartstichting, cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding and pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, called on the next government to do more to ban smoking and to bring in strict regulations for alternative products, such as electronic cigarettes.
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