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Smokefree 'dairygeddon' sees call for compensation and security

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Dairy owners want compensation and a massive boost in security with the end of cigarette sales being signalled. Something that will see crime spike as black marketers rob stores for 'the good stuff' before conventional tobacco sales end.

"There is no point stamping our feet because the government won’t listen," says Sunny Kaushal, chair of the Dairy and Business Owners’ Group.

"We know that from our petition, which has over 1,700 online and physical signatures, that supposedly local MP’s did not get back to us on. We now have a sponsor but it looks as if it won’t be tabled until 2022, whereas the Cancer Society’s one sped right on through.

"This is why we plan to write to the Associate Minister of Health, Dr Verrall, to ask for a meeting with her, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Police in order to talk about compensation and security.

"In the 1990’s, when tobacco sponsorship for events and sports were axed, the Health Sponsorship Council was created to fill the void. If the government can do that then and underwrite major events for Covid risk now, then a compensation package is right and proper to help some 4,000 dairies and owner-operated service stations reimagine their businesses.

"As the Minister wants very low nicotine cigarettes it will likely mean genetically engineered tobacco that’ll only be sold at a tenth of current outlets. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that assaults, robberies and potentially dairy owner deaths could result over the next few years.

"The gangs are the big winners as they’ll set up ‘ciggie houses’ selling full-strength tobacco alongside the ‘tinnie houses.’

"Look, we don’t disagree with the need for a Smokefree New Zealand, but the Minister’s press release reads as if it was written well before the 2021 Health Survey results came out last week.

"Due to vaping, a record 98,000 New Zealanders have quit smoking daily over the past year, 34,000 of them Maori. The Minister claims it will take decades for Maori to become smokefree but based on a 6.3% drop in just one year, that could be in less than six years.

"We now face ‘dairygeddon’ where the South Island’s entire West Coast may only have one or two legal outlets. Instead, give dairies back vape flavours and that will at least stop the flight to the black market and provide real options for smokers and a way forward for dairies.

"All dairy owners want is a fair go given the consultation process that we submitted on, now appears to have been pre-determined," Mr Kaushal said.

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