Thieves will gain from plain pack

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 17/04/2014
Hitesh Kishore
SMOKE SCREEN: Hitesh Kishore fears plain packaging for cigarettes will make thefts from his shop easier.

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Worried superette owner Hitesh Kishore fears his business will go up in smoke if the Government introduces plain packaging for cigarettes.

The Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill aims to follow Australia's lead and bring in plain olive-green packs with large warning labels and small brand names.

The bill passed its first reading and has been referred to the health select committee, which will present its report in August.Kishore, who has run a south Auckland store for eight years, is among more 4000 retailers and small businesses nationwide who've sent submissions opposing the idea.

He fears the move will create security issues in his shop and put a big dent in his turnover.

The average profit on a pack is 8.2 per cent of the retail price.

"Why are the same rules not applied to alcohol, which can kill the person who drinks and other people if they get behind the wheel of a car?" he says.

Convenience Stores Association chairman Roger Bull says submitters opposing the bill believe plain packaging will slow down transaction times and frustrate customers, making product identification and stock-taking more difficult, increasing mistakes and putting their personal safety at risk if they're forced to turn their backs on people for long periods.

Plain packaging won't stop people from taking up smoking or cut the overall smoking rates, Bull says.

In Australia, where he claims there has been no impact on tobacco sales, "alarmingly, illegal tobacco sales have increased".

The retailers also fear sugary drinks, high-fat foods and alcohol will be the Government's next target.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service's submission on the bill advocates for the introduction of plain packaging as well harsher penalties for non-compliance, a register of tobacco sellers and banning branding on individual cigarettes.

Health ministry figures show more than 625,000 people smoke, 554,000 of them daily.

Australia introduced plain packaging rules in December 2012.

The move has led to five legal challenges by Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia through the World Trade Organisation. 

All say plain packaging is too drastic to meet the objective of protecting health and could make counterfeiting easier and cheaper - leading  to an increase in smoking. 

RETAILER CONCERN

■ South Auckland retailers concerned it will hinder their businesses.

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■ It will slowdown transaction times and frustrate customers.

■ Stock-taking becomes more difficult and will increase mistakes. 

NEW RULES

■ Harsher penalties for non-compliance, a register of tobacco sellers and banning branding on individual cigarettes.

■ Packaging should ban any features that appeal to the senses of smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing. 

- Manukau Courier

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