E-Cigarettes Possible Solution for Dairy Armed Robberies
From fog cannons and security guards to the recent installation of a security cage following a violent attack, dairy owners across the country are going to extreme lengths to keep themselves safe.
“I haven’t slept since the attack,” Sandeep explained to One News. Sandeep installed a security cage around his Hamilton dairy following a frenzied robbery by two teenagers, who attacked him with a machete before making off with cigarettes and the entire till.
This attack followed another armed robbery at Sandeep’s store in November.
Sandeep isn’t alone in his fears. With more than 1200 aggravated robberies committed each year against dairy businesses, owners and workers live in terror. Many hire security guards or take other extreme measures to protect their businesses and their lives.
The government offers dairy owners subsidised fog cannons, but police and owners argue more needs to be done.
When asked about the reaction from the community, Mihi Blair from Hapai Te Hauora spoke to the troubling trends, saying, ‘Like many members of the community, Hapai is aroha for those affected by tobacco-related violence such as store owners. This violence reflects one negative outcome of not prioritising supply reduction. Supply reduction is what many in the sector and community advocate for; if tobacco weren’t readily available, there would be no reason to target and attack convenience stores for cigarettes.’
Police report that the majority of these attacks target tobacco and cigarette products as well as the money in the till. “The high price of cigarettes make them an attractive target for thieves.”
There are few precautions that can be taken, and suggestions that dairy owners simply stop stocking cigarettes aren’t practical. For most dairies, cigarettes provide a significant source of income. “People come in for their nicotine fix and they leave with other groceries,” explains one dairy owner. “If I were to stop stocking them, those customers would simply go somewhere else.
“I’d rather not sell them, but I can’t afford not to.”
Phil Murphy of Liquor Centre Matata was one of the earliest adopters of a tobacco-free policy in his store after a spate of attacks. He says he’s never regretted it.
“As far as business is concerned – markup on cigarettes is very minimal so there isn’t a lot of benefit to business owners when selling them. Since I stopped stocking tobacco products I’ve saved a lot more money purely on insurance costs than I would have made selling cigarettes. With a lower risk of robberies our premiums go right down. Also, we have greater peace of mind. “
“This is yet another negative impact cigarettes and Tobacco have on life in New Zealand,” says QJ, director of predominant e-cigarette retailer NZVAPOR. “Not only does smoking kill more than 5000 New Zealanders every year and present a huge public health risk, but the sale of these products leave businesses vulnerable to attack. We’re suggesting that instead of stopping the sale of nicotine products all together, dairy owners investigate the option of swapping out their tobacco stands for e-cigarette consignment.”
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that run off a flavoured juice, which is heated to create a vapor that’s inhaled. Most flavoured juices contain nicotine, but not the thousands of other harmful chemicals contained in cigarettes. Thousands of people around NZ are making the move to e-cigarettes for the health benefits, and in doing so are saving hundreds of dollars every week - without dropping a single puff.
Vaping is significantly cheaper than smoking, with a week’s supply of juice costs as little as $20. In contrast, a pack a day smoker is spending well over $25 per day.
The number of active smokers in NZ stands at 550,000-600,000. In the most recent Census, 70% of these people showed an intent and interest to quell the habit. While this number of people actively looking to quit rises, we are also seeing a rise in the number of people engaging in vaping, with around 100,000 active vapers. This could be due to the increasing availability of vaping products as stores enjoy the stronger margins on vape products (3x higher than traditional tobacco products).
QJ and his company NZVAPOR are offering free consignment for any dairy owner in New Zealand who is considering replacing their tobacco stocks. “We’re trying to do our bit to help dairy owners stay safe. After all; if a dairy owner stops stocking nicotine products all together, the end user is the one who is ultimately left out in the cold. If you own a dairy and you’re thinking about removing tobacco from your shelves, we’d love to talk to you. It doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise.”
“This is not a silver bullet solution, but it is a great option for those dairy owners who can’t afford to get out of the tobacco market. We shouldn’t have dairy owners fearing for their lives just to earn a living.”