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Smuggling Claims A Smokescreen Say ASH

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Smuggling Claims A Smokescreen Say ASH

13 August 2009 - Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says claims by the NZ Association of Convenience Stores that black market tobacco trade would increase following a ban on the display of tobacco products are a gross distortion of the facts.

"There is no link between banning retail displays and an increase in illicit tobacco trade. The tobacco industry is resorting to fear-mongering retailers with erroneous claims," said ASH director, Ben Youdan.

Most of the non-duty paid product in New Zealand comes from duty-free sales, or niche foreign brands, not smuggling.

"The checks and balances on smuggling are carried out on New Zealand's borders, not in the shops across the country. The display ban has one purpose only - to prevent the tobacco industry marketing their products to the most vulnerable groups in society," said Mr Youdan.

"The average of 50 000 cigarettes seized by customs every month equates to less than half of one percent of the 200 million cigarettes released for sale by tobacco companies in New Zealand every month. It's pathetic that the association has to resort to misleading the public and retailers to serve the interest of their tobacco industry puppet masters," he said.

Mr Youdan says the New Zealand market is entirely different the UK where smuggling is a major problem.

"Claims that a display ban will increase smuggling are based on a tobacco industry funded opinion poll designed to play on the fears of UK retailers, and have absolutely no basis in the real facts about cigarette smuggling.

"In the UK, 13 percent of cigarettes and around 50 percent of loose tobacco is estimated to be illegal. Less than half of one percent of New Zealand tobacco fits that category," concluded Mr Youdan.

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