February 15, 2008
Complete Ban On Retail Tobacco Displays Urged
One of the country's largest district health boards is calling for a complete ban on all retail tobacco displays and the minimum age of people selling tobacco set at 25 years and over.
In a submission to the Ministry of Health, Waikato DHB has slammed current provisions which allow the tobacco industry to promote and position an addictive product as a regular consumer item.
Chief executive Craig Climo said it allowed tobacco products to retain high visibility in retail outlets.
"This undermines and contradicts health messages, endangers children and young people visiting retail outlets selling tobacco and discourages smokers' quit attempts and the smoke-free status of former smokers."
The Waikato DHB population has a higher than national average of smoking prevalence at 22 per cent of its residents, while the national average sits at 20 per cent.
Higher still, is the percentage of admissions to Health Waikato services who are smokers, at 24.21 per cent.
The submission made on the Ministry's Review of Tobacco Displays in New Zealand consultation document sent this week, also recommends tobacco retailers display large Government-designed graphic health warnings at the outlet in addition to tobacco packaging.
"Graphic health warnings have been demonstrated to be effective," said Mr Climo.
"They provide an additional tool to encourage smokers to quit, support former smokers to remain smoke-free and discourage young people from starting to smoke."
He said the ban would also include tobacco vending machines.
"Tobacco vending machines should be banned altogether as they work in the same way as retail displays, so could therefore undermine the legislation."
The MoH consultation document provided four options, which included the continuation of current restrictions with enhanced education and enforcement, the implementation of further restrictions on tobacco displays, a ban on displays in areas accessible to under-18s or a complete ban.
However, Mr Climo said the Waikato DHB believed a complete ban was the only option that would protect children and support smokers to quit.
"Tobacco use is addictive, a carcinogenic and kills thousands of New Zealanders every year," he said.
"The visual stimuli that tobacco displays offer is a temptation for people battling with a nicotine addiction.
"Research has found that point of sale stimuli, in particular bright visual images, such as those used on tobacco packaging and displays encourages unplanned purchases.
"Therefore, retail tobacco displays have a particular impact on vulnerable buyers such as impulse purchasers."
He said by making the ban a complete one, rather than with limited restrictions, it would also be easier for retailers to comply with, offering the least potential for confusion.
"It would also have minimal adverse impact on smokers who are not ready to quit as they know where to buy tobacco products anyway," said Mr Climo.
The submission also recommends annual training be undertaken by retailers to assist in managing and monitoring tobacco sale in New Zealand.
"The Waikato DHB supports the introduction of a comprehensive tobacco retailers' licensing scheme in order to support greater regulation and control of the retail of tobacco products," said Mr Climo.
"Breaches in relevant regulations should result in the loss of licenses and therein the ability to sell tobacco products."
Measures suggested to be considered as part of the tobacco retailer licensing system include, requiring tobacco retailers to stock and advertise a minimum range of smoking cessation aids and that a minimum age of staff selling tobacco products is set to 25 years, as it is with alcohol sales.
Other recommendations made by Waikato DHB in its submission include:
* The inclusion of the Quitline telephone number on all tobacco packaging
* Only one tobacco outlet per store be permitted
* A ban on the payment of tobacco slotting fees to retailers and any other payments to retailers in relation to the marketing of tobacco
* All tobacco products be kept in closed cupboards or containers
* Support of the introduction of legislation requiring the disclosure of tobacco industry practices to enable government to track industry payments to retailers