Smoking cigarettes in Australia is an expensive habit.
Related story: Workers score 4 days of leave for kicking smoking habit
In fact, at around $35 for a pack of 20, Australia’s cigarettes are the most expensive in the world.
This fact was highlighted in a now-viral Facebook post from a Tasmanian grandma.
“Cigarettes v Food... grandchild commented on how much cigarettes are, after watching someone purchase them,” she said.
“So we made a challenge.”
She and the grandchildren tried to see how many basic food items they could buy for the same price as a 40-pack of cigarettes.
The cigarettes came to $56.95 and the groceries came to $56.85, which included bananas, sausages, mince, pasta, bread, milk, carrots and cereal.
“They were surprised at the amount of food you can buy for the same monetary value,” the woman said.
“Must say I hope this exercise has made them aware of life’s choices ... and not to take up this habit.”
The post has since gone viral, racking up 14,000 shares and nearly 8,000 comments.
“Great idea to teach them while young,” one person commented.
“Mind blown people spend that much money on cigarettes,” added another.
“Beyond crazy,” one simply stated.
But others said this kind of comparison isn’t always helpful.
“As an ex smoker, there is nothing less motivational than a non smoker trying to convince you to quit!! Smokers know it's expensive, and unhealthy. They don't need to be told it over and over. It's tough to quit, but can be done, but it has to be the smokers [sic] decision or it'll never happen!” one person said.
“I have smoked for a very long time and my three kids never ever went hungry,” added another.
Cigarette price hike
Successive tax hikes saw the price of cigarettes increase 25 per cent in 2010 and then 12.5 per cent every year until 2020.
From September, that means Australians will be paying around $48.50 for a 25 pack.
According to a Cancer Council Victoria-funded study, the tax hikes saw smoking prevalence in Australians over 14 decrease from 17.87 per cent to 13.30 per cent, or around 890,000 people.
The World Health Organisation has also found price hikes are the “single most effective way” to stop people smoking.
“Tobacco tax increases have an important effect on reducing smoking prevalence, and this study has significant implications for guiding tobacco policy in other countries,” Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said.
“Over the period of the study in Australia, we saw tobacco companies bringing out smaller pouch sizes – even ‘kiddy’ pouches as small as 15 grams of tobacco. We also saw companies adding ‘bonus’ sticks into cigarette packs to tempt consumers to keep buying.
Going forward, he said minimum prices should be implemented to reduce tobacco companies’ ability to market cheaper products.
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