The price hike will raise revenue to allow the government to pursue a variety of 2020-21 policy goals, but also, to work the economic levers to encourage more positive changes in consumer behaviours and choice-making as high tobacco and alcohol consumption is causing health care costs to rise and productivity to fall.
From 1 July, the average packet-a-day smoker will pay $547.50 a month, or $6,570 a year, just to maintain their addiction.
The most recent WHO Nauru Stepwise Non-communicable Diseases Prevalence and Risk Factor Survey (Nauru-STEPS), 2015-2016, reveals that almost half of all Nauruans smoke, in equal numbers of males to females. Upwards of 54 per cent and 27 per cent of those surveyed revealed having been exposed to second-hand smoke – highly injurious to health – in the home and the workplace respectively.
The survey also revealed that over a quarter of the Nauruan population are current drinkers (27.7 per cent), with those under 45 years 62.8 per cent more likely to be current drinkers than those over 45.
Nauru Police Force reports that excessive alcohol consumption is a factor in a large majority of call-outs to which they attend, with half of these domestic violence incidents.
In the 12 months between July 2017 and June 2018, alcohol was a factor in the majority of the 66 motor vehicle accidents that occurred.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as ‘lifestyle’
diseases, are “the single largest cause of premature mortality in the Pacific Islands” causing cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases. The four major risk factors result from personal lifestyle choices: tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol.
Public messaging in Nauru through the Government Information Office (GIO) and Nauru Media is designed to inform and educate the range of stakeholders impacted by the tax increase, which not only includes tobacco and alcohol product importers, customs brokers, and retailers, but also the general public as consumers.
For businesses, the uniformed increase is designed to reduce administrative complexity, and thus overheads, and for the consumer, the tax hike serves as a good opportunity to consider lifestyle choices and quit smoking and the misuse and abuse of alcohol.
Naoero Public Health has quit smoking and alcohol counselling programs to assist individuals to gain more knowledge and improve their health and wellbeing, securing a brighter future for themselves and their families.