Cigarette display ban fails to stub out smoking
Do you think removing tobacco products from public display will have any effect on smoking habits?
A new law requiring dairies, supermarkets and service stations to hide tobacco products does not appear to have put Nelson smokers off two months on.
One dairy owner says the Government is "like a dictator trying to change people's minds", while health promoters say it's a brilliant step in a long-term battle to eradicate tobacco use in our society.
From July, retailers including dairies, petrol stations and supermarkets were banned from displaying cigarettes and tobacco products in public view.
They must be hidden in plain cupboards behind the counter, prices can no longer be openly displayed, and businesses cannot trade with names that advertise tobacco.
Retailers failing to comply with the changes, under the Government's Smokefree Environments Amendment Act, risk a fine of up to $10,000.
The Nelson Mail surveyed managers and owners of dairies about the effect of the act in their stores.
Victory On The Spot owner David Ranchhod said the new rules hadn't made a dent in tobacco sales, because people who smoked “know what they want to buy”.
“They just think it's a big joke really - what the Government is doing. It's like a dictator trying to change people's minds. It's just ridiculous," he said.
Bhaumik Desai of Kia Ora Store in Motueka's King Edward St said he had not noticed any changes in people's tobacco buying habits.
“They know what they want anyway. It doesn't make any difference,” he said.
The manager of Black Cat Dairy on Annesbrook Dr, Tania Murray, said it had not affected sales at all.
"We have the odd customer that gets grumpy, because they can't look in the cupboard," she said.
Richmond Night 'n Day Foodstore co-owner David Smolenski said tobacco sales had probably stayed the same.
He said there was initially a change when people came in saying: "Cigarettes, where are they?" However, people had got used to the changes and still came in and asked for cigarettes. If they asked what they had, the shop could show them a list.
Mr Smolenski said he did not think the law targeted addicted smokers, but was aimed more at future smokers, with the cigarettes no longer visible to young children.
"I don't think it's about today's sales, it's about the future sales."
Nayland Road Store owner Jude Schiefer said she had not noticed any changes in sales, but a lot of people had complained and said it was "ridiculous" they could no longer see the tobacco on sale.
People were saying whether they could see tobacco or not was not going to make them change their mind about smoking.
"Everyone is commenting that they think it is a rather pointless exercise."
However, health promoters in Nelson have a different view and are all for the new rules.
Nelson Bays Primary Health Organisation chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said it was "a brilliant step in a long-term battle to eradicate tobacco use in our society".
Mr Swanson-Dobbs said he fully supported any move to decrease the advertising and the promotion of tobacco, so it was out of sight and out of mind for New Zealand's children, adolescents and adults.
"I know if I see chocolate, I want more of it. If I don't see it, I'm going to have less of it. I think the less we see tobacco advertising or tobacco products in society, the less people will want it. It is a drug that is killing our nation. I don't think it should be in our town or our country."
Nelson Bays PHO smokefree facilitator Claire Gavin said she had heard "anecdotally" that cigarette sales were down in the community, but supermarket checkout staff she had spoken to had not noticed a reduction.
However, she said anything that made it harder for customers and potential customers to buy tobacco products, which often used to be displayed at eye level, was a good thing. "That visual display was quite seductive. They were bombarded with it at eye level," she said.
Labour's health spokeswoman Maryan Street said she thought retail outlets would see a reduction in sales. The lack of displays helped those who were struggling with nicotine addictions, because they were no longer confronted by tobacco products all the time.
“That's got to be helpful. As for the nanny-state accusations, I have always believed that the law changes people's behaviour, and that attitudes come next. You can't compel people to feel differently about things or to have different attitudes, but you can compel them to change their behaviour and that usually results further down the line in a change of attitude. The restrictions on smoking are a prime example of that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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