Big tobacco firms decry 'prohibition'

Last updated 05:00 04/11/2010

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A proposal to phase out smoking in New Zealand by 2025 is "prohibition in all but name" that will bolster organised crime, a tobacco company says.

British American Tobacco New Zealand corporate and regulatory affairs head Susan Jones said the Maori Affairs select committee's recommendations failed to recognise that demand would always be satisfied.

"The only thing we can say with certainty is that, like alcohol prohibition, a ban on tobacco will fuel an already thriving illegal market and create greater profit opportunities for gangs of organised criminals."

Imperial Tobacco New Zealand's sales and marketing director, Tony Mears, said restricting conditions of sale would "ruin many family-run businesses around the country for no reason".

"Measures to protect children from access to age-restricted tobacco products are undermined by illicit tobacco." Plain packaging could also encourage counterfeit products.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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