The Federal Government is hoping to raise over $5 billion in the next four years from an increase in the tax on tobacco.

Estimates suggest the tax increase, which is to be rolled out in stages to 2017, will add $5.25 to a pack of 20 cigarettes when it’s fully implemented. The planned change is part of several reforms announced recently by the government to help patch a glaring shortfall on the path to surplus; they also include adjustments to the fringe benefits tax.

The Government called the changes a “co-ordinated attack on the tobacco industry” yesterday, warning of the burden on society from cancers caused by smoking, which kills 15,000 Australians a year. They claim the extra revenue raised will be channelled towards healthcare.

Increasing taxes on legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco have been employed in the attempt to raise billions in previous years. A 25 per cent rise in the 2010 budget pushed up the impost from 26.2c to 32.7c on a typical cigarette, intended to raise $5.5 billion over five years. However, a forecast $1.285 billion boost in the year to June 2012 was curiously vacant from the budget.