- The price of cigarettes and tobacco products will rise by 12.5 percent from today
- It is the second time this year that Australia's tobacco excise tax has increased
- Pack-a-day smokers will now be shelling out nearly £7,000 per year to spark up
- NSW Nationals MP Michael Johnsen says Australia should encourage vaping
- Australia's black market tobacco trade is now worth over £300million per year
Australia is the most expensive country in the world to buy cigarettes, with a pack of 20 now costing £19 after a tax hike.
Popular brands are even more expensive, with smokers having to pay north of £22 from today, as the Australian Government's tobacco excise increases for the second time this year by 12.5 per cent.
That means those who smoke a pack a day will be shelling out nearly £7,000 a year for their habit - more than any other country in the world.
Last year, the average cost of a pack of 20 Marlboro cigarettes cost around £15 in Australia, with New Zealand a close second at more than £13.
Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom make up the rest of the top five, but were all under £10.
NSW Nationals MP Michael Johnsen, who smoked for 40 years, told 2GB radio that more should be done to encourage vaping - an alternative he says is cheaper and safer.
'We hear the federal government want to ban it all together. I think rather than banning it, in NSW we should be taking the lead and the federal government should be coming along with us in terms of legalising, regulating and taxing it,' Mr Johnsen said.
'It should be used as a way for people that want to get off smoking, to transition out of smoking.'
A year's worth of vaping costs about £550 in contrast, but at the moment laws around vaping are somewhat complex and all states and territories have their own legislation regarding the sale of e-cigarettes.
Under Australian poison regulations, the possession and use of nicotine for vaping is effectively banned.
But vaporisers and e-cigarettes can be sold without liquid nicotine by vendors.
A person can then legally obtain a prescription for liquid nicotine or get a permit from the the Therapeutic Goods Administration to import a personal supply, however most users obtain the highly addictive substance illegally.
'If you look at it in practical terms, rather than spend £7,000 - if they spend £550 on vaping or £1,100 because you taxed it - they'd be happy with that and they'd be saving a lot of money and we would be regulating it, so it would be a safe method and a very safe product,' Mr Johnsen said.
'We'd actually be helping the community become a lot healthier.'
The Australian government rakes in about £9billion dollars a year in tobacco tax.
This has led to a surge in black market tobacco trade as organised crime syndicates flood the Australian market with cheap smokes.
The illegal tobacco trade is worth more than £300million dollars annually, according to the Australian Border Force.
Although there is some scientific evidence to support the notion that vaping is safer than traditional tobacco products, other studies around the globe have concluded e-cigarettes can still cause serious harm.
With the world now in the grips of a once-in-a lifetime pandemic virus that attacks the lungs and respiratory system, health experts say there has never been a better time to quit.
'You are about twice as likely to have severe COVID disease if you are a current or past smoker compared to someone who has never smoked,' said Matthew Peters, head of respiratory medicine at Sydney's Concord Hospital told the ABC.
'Smoking is bad for your lungs and this is a particularly good time to not be a smoker and not have that damage going on.
'The sooner you can act, the better... You cut the risk of wound infections, chest infections and pneumonia, as well as heart attacks and strokes.'