Tighter cigarette laws looming

By Julia Proverbs

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Tough new cigarette laws come into force next month - forcing Tauranga tobacco retailers to take radical steps to comply.

Amendments to the Smoke-Free Environments Act mean it will be illegal to display any tobacco products from July 23. Retailers will also not be allowed to trade under a name that signifies they sell tobacco products.

Those that do could face prosecution and a fine of up to $10,000.

In preparation of the changes, Tauranga retailer Mike Lawrence has changed the name of his store, formerly the Big Tobacco Discounter, on the corner of Cameron Road and 16th Avenue, to Puff'n Stuff.

He has also put in a coffee bar and expanded the store's range of giftware.

The law had gone "way too far", he said. "I've never heard of anyone smack over their wife for one Pall Mall too many. Tobacco is picked on so much."

He did not believe concealing cigarettes and tobacco would stop people from buying them.

"After three years there on the corner and everyone knowing where we are, there won't be any problems.

"Just by judging what my customers are saying, they are not going to stop because they can't see it."

Many customers were "having a good laugh" over it, he said.

"It's like they are being naughty again, like a kid."

Harjit Singh, of Tobacco Discounter and Crazy Clearance and Convenience Store, said his tobacco supplier would provide a specially designed cabinet in which to store the tobacco products.

"We have to follow the new law," he said.

The store would also change its name, most likely by shortening it to Crazy Clearance and Convenience Store but he did not expect to lose customers.

The law change was "better for New Zealanders", he said.

Farrukh Khen, owner of Lenz Superette, did not expect sales to drop dramatically.

"It might affect it a little bit but not entirely because they still want to smoke," he said.

A non-smoker, he said it was good for the next generation who would be less familiar with tobacco branding as a result.

Chris Watson, who gave up smoking three months ago, thought it "might help" those who were trying to quit by taking the temptation away.

But it would have little or no impact on determined smokers.

"You have to want to give up."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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