Registration Of Tobacco Sellers Would Strengthen Tobacco Laws

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says retailers facing prosecution for selling tobacco to minors will become simpler and less costly to administer under new tobacco laws, but there is a need for a register of all tobacco sellers.

A Taumarunui retailer is facing prosecution and a fine of up to $2000 after selling cigarettes to a person under 18 years of age.

Changes under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill before Parliament would see smokefree enforcement officers issue instant infringement notices. The Bill does not currently introduce a retailer registration scheme.

ASH director Ben Youdan says registration could be done quickly and easily online and would provide an effective method to identify where tobacco is sold.

“Only the tobacco industry knows exactly how many retailers sell tobacco and where they are. Creating a register will make communication about retail laws, and enforcement much easier that the current guessing game.”

There is uncertainty around numbers and locations of tobacco outlets. Ministry of Health estimates put the number at 10 000 retailers, a figure disputed by Imperial Tobacco who told the Health select committee in a submission the figure was 6 607.

“With no knowledge about who sells tobacco in New Zealand, the balance of power is with the tobacco industry. Tobacco sellers have a relationship with tobacco companies, when they should be having one with the Ministry of Health, “said Mr Youdan.


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