Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

September 29th, 2008:

Committee Recommends Ban On Tobacco Displays [New Zealand]

Stuff | Monday, 29 September 2008

A Parliamentary committee says the Government should ban tobacco and cigarette displays in shops. The Health Committee made the recommendation after considering a petition signed by more than 20,000 people in support of the ban.

The National Party, in a minority view, said there needed to be more evidence before implementing a ban. There was already a ban on advertising tobacco products but they could still be displayed in shops. The Health Ministry said there were over 10,000 retail outlets selling tobacco products, usually displayed in large highly visible units.

The New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores said tobacco products accounted for about 37 percent of members’ annual sales. The association said financial incentives offered to retailers by tobacco companies were confidential.

The ministry is looking at whether such arrangements are allowed, under smokefree legislation. The association said moving displays units would cost each retailer up to $6000 and revenue would decline. It also said risk to retailers would be heightened if staff had to take their eyes off customers to get cigarettes from under counters.

The report said in other countries where bans were implemented stores had not had to close, nor were jobs lost. The committee recommended shop interiors be made visible to the street to improve safety.

Iceland, Thailand and most of Canada banned displays. Iceland recorded some decline in smoking but it could not be attributed solely to the ban.

In New Zealand, smoking decreased by 23.4 percent in 2002-03 to 18.87 percent in 2006-07.

The Health Ministry estimated the cost of smoking to the economy at $1.7 billion as of 2005. Smoking caused illnesses cost the health system between $300 million and $350 million a year.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) New Zealand welcomed the committee’s decision. ASH director Ben Youdan said tobacco should not be treated like other products. “It kills half the people who use it, yet for too long we have allowed these addictive and deadly poisons to be sold next to the milk and chocolates.

Mr Youdan said the ban was critical to tackling youth smoking. The average start age was around 14-15 years old. “Young people are the new recruits the tobacco companies need to replace the 4700 Kiwis who die every year from smoking.”

“We know this ban will be effective — that’s why industry has been so vocally opposed to the idea — the displays are one of the last bastions of cigarette marketing.”

During submissions researchers said the displays were de facto advertising which encouraged impulse buys and made it harder for people trying to kick the habit