Do you think Foodstuffs decision to ask staff to hide cigarettes in plastic bags before handing it to customers should be praised?
OPINION: A complete smoking ban doesn't seem that unrealistic when you consider how restrictive the laws surrounding the sale and consumption of cigarettes have become. Smokers can no longer light up inside bars, restaurants, or at work, and moves are afoot to ban smoking in public outdoor areas.
The ever-increasing price hikes and advertising regulations are part of the Government's moves to deter young New Zealanders from taking up the deadly habit.
The latest offensive in the war against smoking is the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act, which came in to effect last month.
The act makes it illegal for cigarettes or their prices to be on public display. Shops now hold their cigarettes in secure cabinets, with workers providing unsure customers with a price menu. But Foodstuffs, which owns the Pak'n Save, New World and Four Square chains, in Auckland has taken the law a step further by hiding cigarettes in bags before giving them to customers - the idea being non-smokers shouldn't have to see them. Some will cry "political correctness gone mad" and it may seem a bit excessive.
It's reminiscent of being sent into the shop as a child to get your mum's "chocolates". The shopkeeper would hand over the covered parcel with a wink but everyone in the store knew they were tampons.
But it's interesting that Auckland Foodstuffs has taken an anti-smoking stance, considering it is a major supplier of cigarettes and tobacco. Progressive, which owns the Countdown supermarkets, has no immediate plans to follow suit, but if they do have a change of heart then surely the death knell for smoking is starting to sound?
About 5000 New Zealanders die from smoking-related illnesses each year, and the habit accounts for about a quarter of our cancer deaths. If someone wants to smoke, it is their decision, foolhardy as it might seem to some.
But the effects of passive smoke on non-smokers and the luring of young people into the habit through advertising are unacceptable practises.
Foodstuffs should be applauded for taking such a responsible and proactive approach in the face of possible backlash from its customers and suppliers.
One more thing: It was great to see Manawatu cyclist Simon van Velthooven arrive home after a successful trip to the London Olympics. Despite his hectic schedule, the 23-year-old showed he was a true champion by posing for photographs with his bronze medal when he arrived at the airport yesterday. The former Boys' High student is only young, so no doubt another triumphant homecoming will be on the cards in four years' time.
- © Fairfax NZ News