Beer and Cigs Up! For many years, this was the newspaper headlines that would scream out the morning after the delivery of the Federal Budget. The headline highlighted the fact that the government had increased the taxes on cigarettes and beer again, and for the beer-swilling, chain smoker, it was a big impost to see the price go up on a packet of gaspers or a pot of the amber ale.
Alcohol and tobacco excise has always been a dependable and significant form of revenue for the government. As well as being an important part of government revenue, excise has also been used to further public health aims, such as efforts to reduce the number of smokers in the community by increasing the tax on cigarettes.
These excises are often seen as a regressive form of tax, in that they have a proportionately greater impact on lower-income earners than higher-income earners. For example, the impact is greater for tobacco products, where the lowest income households are 7.5 times harder hit than high-income households.
However, the increased excise on cigarettes, along with plain packaging and a ban on advertising, has been a key contributor to reducing the prevalence of smoking in the community, resulting in a reduction in smoking-related deaths.
So when the Treasurer next delivers the budget, the headline should be, Beer and Cigs Up! Deaths Down!