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Tobacco Display Ban Will Cost $50 Million, Retailers Say

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tobacco Display Ban Will Cost $50 Million, Retailers Say

Wellington, Nov 5 NZPA - Tobacco retailers are up in arms over the Government's latest moves to curb smoking, saying it will cost $50 million to change their shops and hide cigarettes.

Tobacco displays are going to be banned when law changes are passed and there could be more moves when the Government reacts in February to a select committee report, released on Wednesday, recommending strict measures aimed at halving smoking by 2015 and turning New Zealand into a smokefree nation by 2025.

The Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS) said last night the display ban was "a completely unwelcome move" against retailers who would be forced to change their shops and also face threats and abuse as they looked for hidden products.

"A display ban will do little to stop smoking but will force over $50 million in costs onto the struggling retail sector," said NZACS chairman Roger Bull.

"That's why Sweden and Denmark rejected the idea and the UK is reviewing the previous government's decision to introduce a ban."

Parliament's Maori affairs select committee produced the report, which the Government will respond to in February, and its chairman Tau Henare said yesterday he hoped ministers would agree to reduce tobacco imports, force tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging, extend smoke-free areas to vehicles and ban vending machines.

The Government reacted cautiously, with Prime Minister John Key saying it would be "a huge ask" to make New Zealand smokefree in 15 years.

The Association of Community Retailers (ACR) has warned that drastic anti-smoking measures could see a spike in tobacco robberies with organised criminals targeting bulk imports.

Mr Henare said there was no evidence of an increase in tobacco-related crime because of price increases and claims that organised criminals would move in were overblown.

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