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Tobacco retailer support for new display legislation

Wellington campus

Friday 20 July 2012 2:20pm

Tobacco retailers interviewed in the Wellington area mostly supported the forthcoming removal of point-of-sale tobacco product displays, according to University of Otago, Wellington research funded by Regional Public Health.

Most retailers do not agree with the concerns expressed by the tobacco industry about the new regulations, and many retailers also support further tobacco control measures in retail settings.

The Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 comes into effect on Monday 23 July and requires tobacco displays to be removed from shops, along with other changes. This change means that retailers must make sure that tobacco products cannot be seen by customers in their store.

"Retailers had varied views on tobacco control measures and their effectiveness", says lead researcher Dr Richard Jaine. "Most were relaxed about the new regulations. Some thought the removal of tobacco displays would reduce smoking, and discourage young people from taking up smoking; others did not. Other retailers expressed interest in providing additional support to customers who are trying to quit."

"Most retailers were either ambivalent about selling tobacco or would rather not sell it, while none expressed positive attitudes towards selling tobacco. But most believed that it was a business imperative and they hadn’t seriously considered stopping stocking tobacco," says Dr Jaine.

The tobacco industry has predicted that removing tobacco product displays will result in financial losses for retailers and an increase in thefts and security issues. However, most retailers did not believe these predictions.

"Retailers didn’t consider security would be either worse or better following the changes", says Dr Jaine. "Also they didn’t foresee any financial costs to themselves in changing displays. Unless the store wants to make its own changes to shelving, the tobacco companies will be providing covers for tobacco cabinets, at no cost to the retailers."

Many of the retailers supported further tobacco control measures. Most were not opposed to the idea of it being compulsory for tobacco sellers to also sell quit-aids like Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) including patches, gums or lozenges. A few already have NRT products for sale. Many also supported the idea that retailers should be licensed or registered to sell tobacco.

"These law changes are a positive step towards the Government’s 2025 smokefree goal, and it’s encouraging to find that retailers generally support interventions aimed at achieving this goal."

Dr Ruth Richards, Public Health Physician at Regional Public Health says, "The positive responses of retailers identified in this research gives us a great opportunity to work with them implementing the new changes to smokefree environments, furthering the goal of Smokefree New Zealand 2025."

The study was conducted earlier this year and interviewed 18 retailers in the Wellington region on the law change, and their attitudes to tobacco control. Retailers from large supermarkets, petrol stations, corner dairies and superettes were selected for interviews in Wellington, Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa.

See below for a summary of the law changes coming into force on 23 July 2012.

For further information contact:

Dr Richard Jaine,
Department of Public Health,
University of Otago Wellington
Tel: 04 385 5541 ext. 6155
Mob: 027 7580860

Kristen Foley,
Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs Team
Regional Public Health
Tel: 04 570 9002
Mob: 0272853490

For a list of Otago experts available for media comment, please go to:


Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 changes

Removal of displays

Retailers must not allow any tobacco product to be visible to the public except when delivering the tobacco products to the premises where they are being sold or to the customer at the point of sale.

Price lists

Tobacco price notices will no longer be able to be openly displayed. Price lists that only identify what tobacco products are available and their price can be provided to a customer upon request.

Product identification tags

Tags intended to help a seller locate a particular tobacco product are permitted as long as the customers cannot easily read these tags.


Retailers can display a sign indicating that tobacco products are available in the store. Any other references to tobacco or smoking will be prohibited. The current ‘SMOKING KILLS’ and ‘No Sales to Under 18s’ signs will be prohibited.

Retail and trading names

Retail or trading names that contain words, phrases, trademarks or company names that have the effect of advertising the availability of tobacco products will be prohibited.

Penalties for breach

Retailers can receive instant fines for some offences (e.g. selling tobacco products to people under 18 years and other offences). There is also an increase in the penalty for selling tobacco products to people under 18 years.

Source: Guidelines for Implementing the Prohibition on the Display of Tobacco Products 2012: Information for sellers of tobacco products and Smoke-free Enforcement Officers, Ministry of Health