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Smoking legislation doesn't sit well with retailers

By Balzafire, Nov 5, 2010 | |
  1. Balzafire
    An angry Wellington shop owner has threatened to rename his store "the drug house", if the Government bans the word tobacco from shop fronts.

    Nelson Chamberlain says anti-smoking legislation denies people personal freedoms and he's part of a growing backlash.

    For years the name and business plan of Nelson Chamberlain's shop have been very simple.

    But the future is looking complicated with the government's plan to ban all tobacco displays and advertising by the end of the year.

    “It's a political statement by people who want to change the way and take away people's freedoms, there's no two ways about it,” Chamberlain says.

    Chamberlain, like many retailers, is angry about costs he'll have to pay rearranging and renaming his shop.

    “I'll just change the name of the shop to the drug house, why not!” He says.

    The new law will also include spot fines for retailers who sell to minors.

    The Ministry of Health estimates it'll cost around $2000 for each retailer to comply.

    But the Association of Convenience Stores says that's way off the mark.

    “We estimate between $8000 and $10,000 per site,” says Roger Bull.

    It's also been widely reported that the social cost of smoking has hit $1.9 billion annually, but economics Professor Eric Crampton says he's researched underlying workings of the sum and says they're flawed.

    “There's an anti-tobacco group within the Ministry of Health that is in competition for resources with other groups and they are more than happy to put out really big figures and scare people about tobacco and get more legislative actions on the things that they care about,” he says.

    Nobody is debating whether smoking is harmful but who the government's changes will actually hurt is a point of contention for shop owners.

    By Dan Parker
    05 Nov 2010


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