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Our Youth Deserve Better

Our Youth Deserve Better

PRESS RELEASE - 19 March 2008

A coalition of retailers representing over 200 dairy and convenience store owners and tobacconists are challenging claims by the Government that banning displays will reduce the incidence of youth smoking in New Zealand.

"The Ministry of Health is looking at the issue of youth smoking too simplistically," says Stay Displays spokesperson Richard Green, from Palmerston North. "Claims that banning displays of tobacco will reduce youth smoking are not based on what actually drives young people to smoke but are based on theoretical marketing analyses and leading questionnaires from anti-tobacco groups."

"The youth of New Zealand deserve better," he said.

Mr Green said the informed literature from overseas and even lobby groups here know that the issue of youth smoking is complex and requires creative solutions. The Smokefree Schools website, for example, says that youth smoking is largely due to emotional, not rational decision-making. Adolescent smoking is used as a tool of self-expression and control, independence and rebellion.

"Adolescent smoking is the result of factors such as income level, education and social conditions. Children are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke, if their peers smoke or other people of influence in their lives smoke. Other factors include if they have access to cigarettes, disposable income or a lack of connection to their parents, school or community."

"Retailers around New Zealand are willing to sit down with the Government, health groups and other stakeholders to develop lasting and robust solutions to youth smoking," Mr Green said. "Retailers want to work with the Government, to develop programmes and processes that educate retailers and stamp out sales of tobacco products to underage smokers."

Mr Green said Government proposals to ban tobacco displays in retail outlets should be scrapped or delayed for at least two years while enforcement programmes are put in place.

"The public are not stupid. Everyone knows that banning displays of tobacco won't stop kids smoking, but better enforcement of the rules and education will help prevent tobacco being obtained by underage smokers. A ban on displays will only drive consumers to supermarkets, which are perceived to have a greater range of products than smaller dairies and convenience stores."

"The viability of local corner shop is under threat. It's time to Save the Dairy!"

ends

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