WELLINGTON, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Price rises for cigarettes and tobacco had the largest impact on inflation for most household groups in the March 2018 quarter, New Zealand's statistics department Stats NZ said on Monday.
"Like the March 2017 quarter, prices for cigarettes and tobacco have seen large rises due to the annual tobacco tax increase," consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said in a statement.
The tax increase was implemented at the beginning of the year, bringing the average price for a packet of 25 cigarettes up to 35.14 NZ dollars (24.4 U.S. dollars).
Of the different household groups measured, Maori households saw the highest inflation in the March 2018 quarter, which was driven by higher prices for cigarettes and tobacco, and interest payments, Duoba said.
Cigarettes and tobacco make up approximately 3 percent of total household living costs for the lowest-spending households, compared to 1 percent for the highest-spending households. Price increases for rent and petrol made the next-biggest contributions to price rises for the lowest-spending households, she said.
The introduction of the government's new "first year free" policy for tertiary education had a dampening effect on inflation for all households. The highest-spending households received the greatest benefit because they spend proportionally more on tertiary education, it said.
These households also experienced the greatest effect from the seasonal price drop in international air transport, according to Stats NZ.