Australia now has, almost certainly, the highest tobacco prices in the entire world. While no one is suggesting that smoking is healthy or not a health risk there are many factors at play here. The Australian government is evidently intent on making poorer people choose between smoking and eating. Unfortunately there will be considerable numbers of people who continue to smoke while their children go hungry and without shoes. I am sure that organised crime is switching its attention from indian hemp and other soft drugs to tobacco. The government is obviously oblivious to these considerations.
Then there are the mentally ill. The vast majority of these people smoke and find it impossible to quit without exacerbating their illness. These are also people who tend to be very low income earners or dependent on welfare. The social consequences of massively higher tobacco taxes has obviously not been considered by the Australian government. From increased crime to greater levels of psychiatric disturbance in the community the dire results of these thoughtless snap decisions are growing in the dark.
There is little evidence that financially destroying smokers causes greater numbers to quit. Other countries (such as Taiwan) that are increasingly banning smoking in public areas, yet do not find it necessary to hugely raise tobacco taxes, would seem to have at least as high, if not a higher, rate of quitters.
Lastly, it is self evident that the Australian government is hypocritical about smoking. On the one hand they are demanding that smokers quit or face utter poverty, so say for concern about their health. Yet on the other hand the government certainly does not want people to live much beyond the retirement age. I for one do want to live long enough to get dementia and be plonked in a nursing home (although I suspect that governments of the future will just give such people lethal injections). It may be cute to be trendy but the Australian government has now crossed the bounds of logic and good sense. Unfortunately, the other political groups are not at all concerned about this. This dictatorial and unwise attitude thus cannot be stopped at the ballot box.