Cancer Society Criticises Hike of New Zealand Tobacco Export to Australia

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The Cancer Society is against the planned increase of New Zealand export of tobacco products to Australia. While the hiked production of cigarettes would lead to the creation of 50 new jobs in the next 24 months, it would also cause the loss of 20,000 lives yearly in Australia, Cancer Society Health Promotion Manager Jan Pearson said.

Imperial Tobacco's factory in Richmond Street is expected to quadruple its exports to Australia with the $45-million upgrade of its facility almost complete. It would result in 4 billion cigarettes being delivered to Australia per year.

"Those four billion cigarettes will have to be the most unpopular and unwelcome Kiwi import to Australia.... The increase in production will supply around 100,000 Australian smokers per year - 20 per cent will die a cancer-related death," Mr Pearson pointed out.

The increase in production capacity is because of Imperial's use of new German machinery that is capable of manufacturing 8,000 cigarette sticks per minute or 500,000 an hour. This would require Imperial to boosts its manpower to 120 from the current 70 workers.

Due to the lapse in June of an agreement between Imperial and British American Tobacco which makes the cigarettes in Sydney, Imperial's Petone facility would benefit from the arrangement. The Petone plant would produce packets of up to 40 cigarettes to be sold under the brands JPS, Horizon and Davidoff, to be manufactured in Lower Hutt and exported to Australia.

Petone Factory Manager Michael McInnarney said Imperial was able to convince its parent company to expand its production capacity in Lower Hutt due to logistic and transport advantages to have the additional tobacco products made in New Zealand instead of other Asian countries.

The higher export of cigarettes to Australia would help the tobacco industry recover from the drop in smoking in New Zealand to just 2 billion cigarettes lit in 2011 from 6 billion in the early 1980s.

Action on Smoking and Health ( ASH ) Director Ben Youdan said New Zealanders should take responsibility for an anticipated rise in deaths in Australia due to tobacco-related ailments. He lamented the rise in production and export at a time when New Zealand aims to make the country smoke-free by 2025.

"What we would have hoped... is that we should be getting the tobacco industry out from the country, not expanding it," Mr Youdan was quoted by The Herald Sun.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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