I'm Senator Leyonhjelm from the Liberal Democrats.
For too long the Government has looked at smokers like a cash cow. Smokers pay 17 times in tax than they use up in costs to the health system.
Australia's cigarette prices are the highest in the world. Yet prices keep rising. The justification for paying so much is borne out of the desire to make you quit. However smoking rates have not changed since 2013 - and this was when plain packaging was introduced.
Our approach to tobacco taxes disproportionately affect the poor. It is also attracting criminal activity, as high taxes have now created an artificial price - and a very lucrative area for smugglers.
It seems that the Government does not want you to quit. Otherwise it would allow legal alternatives, like e-cigarettes (which are found to be much safer).
Unfortunetely, these issues are not heard much around the corridors of Canberra. I find I'm often the lone voice amongst bureaucrats who think increasing taxes is nothing but a good thing.
In the meantime, listen to my speech in parliament, where I thank smokers for their contribution to the economy.
Senator David Leyonhjelm