Buying Cigarettes
I came - I saw - I bought

Mixed reaction over smoking display ban

The Cancer Society says it's delighted the Government has passed legislation to ban tobacco displays.

Parliament passed smokefree legislation last night that bans displays and advertising and also increases fines for selling tobacco products to under 18s, from $2000 to $10,000.

The only MPs to vote against it were three Act MPs - Sir Roger Douglas, Heather Roy and Hilary Calvert, who were anti on the grounds of personal choice.

Shops will have to keep tobacco products and advertisements out of sight. The bill also covers herbal products that could harm health.

Smokefree enforcement officers can hand out spot fines of up to $1000.

Chief executive of the Cancer Society, Dalton Kelly, said the move was a positive one and a step towards "denormalising tobacco" in New Zealand.

"It has been five years since the Cancer Society stood on the steps of Parliament with a petition signed by thousands of New Zealanders calling for the introduction of such laws," Kelly said.

The architect of bill, Tariana Turia, wants tobacco use ended by 2025.

But Richard Green from the Association of Community Retailers told TV ONE's Breakfast the law change is unworkable.

He said the year the Government has given retailers to make the change isn't long enough and that the law change came "out of the blue" last night.

"I am absolutely gutted... it's a blow," Green said.

"It's a huge cost for the average dairy and convenience store. The cost has been estimated at around $5000 per store. I know in my three stores it's going to cost about $26,000 to replace all the tobacco units to ones that have sliding doors.

"Even then it's not going to be workable I don't think they have thought it through. How do we grab a packet of smokes without putting cigarettes on display?"

Green said aside from the impracticality there is a security risk.

"While you have your back turned trying to figure out where the products are, what's to say robberies aren't going to increase?"

He said people need to bear in mind that the average cigarette retailer makes 10% off a packet of cigarettes, while the government makes 75%.

"I think the government should foot the bill," Green said, adding he will send some of his bills to the Ministry.

He said he had been told that there was a possibility the tobacco companies could help pay for the refits although he thought that would be very unlikely.

"The government should pay for it because they are getting the gain out of it according to the legislation."

He said he believed the average smoker would be against the law change because their freedom of choice had been taken away.

"It's the freedom to choose between one brand and another. We can't show them the brand, we can't open our units up to show them what's available and the next thing is we won't even be able to inform them what's available."

He said he had collected the signatures of 15,000 people against the change.

He said he was unsure if he would have to change the name of one of his stores that had the word "tobacconist" in it.

Published: Friday, July 15, 2011

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