Duty free cigarettes are also under review as preparations are made to ban smoking in prisons from July next year.
Tobacco, lighters and matches will all be banned from prisons after a 12 month campaign to help smokers kick the habit.
ONE News has revealed officials are also looking at whether to ban duty free cigarettes.
The anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says the blackmarket is fuelled by tobacco brought in by international travellers and it should stop.
Duty free goods have long been a perk of long-distance travel, but there are calls to take tax-free cigarettes off airport shelves.
“We’re obliged to do it and we urge the government to do it as soon as possible,” says
Ben Youdan, director of ASH.
ONE News has been given an exclusive preview of ASH’s report into the tobacco blackmarket which claims most illegal tobacco in New Zealand comes in duty free.
The maximum travellers are allowed to bring into the country is a 10-packet brick of cigarettes.
An example of how this personal limit is abused is, for instance, by tour leaders who get every traveller to buy a brick and that way they end up with more than they’re actually allowed.
“Then the tour leader would pay them and take all those packets to then go on and sell them at a reduced price,” says Youdan.
A ban in duty free cigarettes is already being considered.
“We’ve been asked by the minister to take a look at it to see if there is any scope for New Zealand to do anything,” says Dr Ashley Bloomfield of the Ministry of Health.
New Zealand has already agreed to control duty free tobacco. Seven years ago New Zealand signed a World Health Organisation treaty agreeing to raise tobacco prices, ban smoking in indoor public places, put health warnings on packets and prohibit or restrict duty free tobacco products.
Singapore and Hong Kong have already banned duty free tobacco under the treaty.
But New Zealand has also signed Customs conventions requiring us to allow tax-free tobacco in.
“People are able to buy duty-free goods anywhere, on the plane, on the exit point of wherever they’re leaving. So why would New Zealand sign up to that if airlines were going to continue to sell cigarettes on board?” Prime Minister John Key questions.
But with no deadline on our international agreement, there’s no telling what tobacco’s shelf-life is in airports.