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Plain packets to follow tobacco display ban

Monday 23 Jul 2012 12:13p.m.

Plain packets to follow tobacco display ban

By Janika Ter Ellen

New regulations on cigarette packaging come into force today, meaning cigarettes can no longer be displayed in plain view in stores.

But the Maori party wants to go further and introduce plain packaging for all tobacco products.

Lance Collins has been smoking for seven years, and wants to quit, but doesn't think hiding cigarettes will do the trick.

“It probably won't, but I wish it would,” he says.

Mr Collins says most smokers are loyal to a brand and know what they want.

“They're automatically going to keep on buying it whether they can see it behind the counter or not.”

Mashesh Patel, who has owned a convenience store for eight years, agrees. He isn't worried about losing sales.

“It will make a little difference, but people know their brand, what they're after, and they will come and buy it.”

From today, he's had to cover his cigarette displays – something that's now happening in all retailers across the country.

But the Maori party says the Government could do more to reduce that brand loyalty by forcing all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.

“We know that for young people in particular, brand is important, and for tobacco companies, too, brand is important to assist their sales,” says Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

Australia has already passed similar legislation, and is scheduled to introduce plain packaging in December, pending legal challenges from a tobacco company. 

Ms Turia says the Government supports Australia, and is prepared to challenge legal opposition from tobacco companies.

Public health researchers are applauding the move, but say the biggest factor in reducing smoking is still price.

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