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The Australasian Association of
Convenience Stores is calling on the
Federal Government to get serious about
reducing youth smoking and make it
illegal for under 18s to smoke.
Current legislation makes it illegal for
retailers to sell tobacco to minors and
heavy fines apply if they do, but the law
contains no means to penalise young
people for buying or smoking cigarettes.
AACS Executive Director, Sheryle Moon
said that while education and awareness
campaigns for young people are essential,
until there is a real disincentive for kids to
light up, we aren't doing enough to reduce
"AACS is calling on our lawmakers
to introduce prosecution and penalties
for those who are caught in the act to
show that they are serious about cutting
youth smoking rates," Ms Moon said.
"We already have a zero tolerance policy
for unaccompanied minors possessing
alcohol, so why can't we do the same
with youth smoking? It is illegal to sell
cigarettes to anyone under 18, but it isn't
illegal for kids to possess a packet of
smokes or have a puff."
The Federal Government has set an
ambitious target for Australia to be the
healthiest country in the world by 2020,
with decreasing the number of teenagers
who smoke as a top priority. Ms Moon said
that it is time to share the responsibility
for youth smoking as current legislation
placed a disproportionate burden on
retailers like the convenience stores
represented by the AACS.
"Under liquor laws, if a child is sold
or given liquor on licensed premises,
both the child and the licensee have
committed an offence and can be
punished accordingly. "Yet when it comes
to tobacco products, only the retailer is
penalised. Where is the deterrent to make
our kids stub out? We believe it is high
time that the responsibility for youth
smoking is shared and our young people
are given a reason to think twice before
sparking up," Ms Moon said.
"We agree convenience stores have a
key role to play in limiting minors' access
to cigarettes, but we can only do so
much. Surely this is something we are all
responsible for -- retailers, parents, young
people and the community at large."
Ms Moon said the facts regarding youth
smoking highlight the need for urgent
action from our lawmakers.
"There is no escaping the facts. A child
who starts smoking aged 14 years or less
is five times more likely to die of lung
cancer than a person who starts aged 24.
Every year 70,000 Australian children are
looking down the barrel of dying from
smoking related disease because they
chose to take up the habit when they
Make it Illegal
"If Australia is serious about becoming
the healthiest nation in the world by
2020, we can no longer turn a blind eye
to youth smoking. It's time to share the
responsibility and make it illegal for our
kids to smoke."
The Australasian Association of
Convenience Stores is also calling for
urgent review of the tobacco display ban
legislation amid warnings that the new
regulations will result in extensive job
losses and closures of Australian small
A new independent report undertaken
by Deloitte predicts that Australian
convenience stores face costs of up to
half a billion dollars to comply with the
display bans; the equivalent of 15,000
Giving weight to these predictions,
identical legislation introduced in
Canada saw 1,875 convenience stores
closed in 2008. On top of this, there is
no evidence from Canada, or any other
country that has introduced display bans,
that the strategy has worked to decrease
smoking, particularly youth smoking.
AACS Executive Director, Sheryle
Moon says that while the Association
supports government initiatives for
Australia to be the healthiest country in
the world by 2020 and reduce smoking
rates, tobacco display bans are no more
than an example of overly prescriptive
government interference that looks good
but achieves little.
"We all agree on the importance of
reducing the number of Australians who
smoke, particularly younger Australians.
However all the evidence shows that
while tobacco display bans have no
effect on this front, there are very severe
implications for small business.
"The Deloitte study estimates the 4,200
convenience stores we represent will be
hit by significant compliance costs to
modify existing store layouts, including
initial store costs of up to $23,000 and
ongoing annual costs of up to $18,000.
"In addition to these direct costs to comply,
Deloitte estimates that the display ban
will increase transaction times by 30 per
cent costing individual convenience stores
more than $12,000 a year, not to mention
inconveniencing all consumers," said Ms
Ms Moon said the unintended
consequences of the tobacco display ban
introduced in Canada five years ago were
a reliable pointer to the fact the outlook
won't be any more positive for Australian
retailers when this legislation is introduced
here next year.
"In the Canadian province of Ontario,
over eight per cent of independent
convenience stores closed permanently
and nearly 14 per cent of owners left the
industry following the introduction of the
"'Going dark' also served to drive
consumers to source tobacco through illicit
markets, particularly youth smokers who
find this market easier to access. About
33 per cent of Canada's cigarettes are now
illegally manufactured and sold," she said.
"These are the types of outcomes our policy
makers need to be taking into consideration
before introducing misguided regulation
like tobacco display bans."
"The potential implications of the new
regulations are so serious that they are
the single most important issue facing this
important industry today.
"Convenience stores - from mum
and dad corner store operators to large
manufacturing suppliers, from multi-store
operators to ethnic-based and remote
rural retailers - play a valuable role in
the Australian community. Our members
employ around 140,000 people and provide
entry level job experiences for young
Australians and employment for immigrant
also provide a valuable resource for the
purchases of staples and as social hubs
for regional and suburban communities.
It is these small businesses and their
employees that stand to lose from tobacco
displays bans that have been shown to have
no impact on tobacco use," Ms Moon said.
"It is easy to be overwhelmed by the
health issues and make knee-jerk decisions
on the way forward. What we need to do is
balance the social benefit with the potential
business and employment impact. If we
don't, these businesses may not survive."
Sheryle Moon can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org or www.aacs.org.au
Retail Industry calls
for action on tobacco
“In the Canadian province of ontario, over eight
per cent of independent convenience stores
closed permanently and nearly 14 per cent of
owners left the industry following the introduction
of the display ban.”
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