With news of the latest tobacco tax increase, dairy owners are calling for extra help to protect them from robberies.

Hāpai Te Hauora is calling for an end to tobacco sales as a way to reduce the risk to dairies, and more importantly to decrease the huge death toll associated with tobacco-related illnesses. 

“If we are to achieve the vision of a complete smoke-free generation for those tamariki born in 2020 and beyond, let’s stop selling products that kill 5,000 New Zealanders every year,” says Mihi Blair, GM of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service at Hāpai Te Hauora.

"We sympathise with dairy owners and their workers and believe they have the right to feel safe in their place of business. However beefed up security alone is a short-term solution that could take us further way from our Smokefree 2025 goal. Tobacco products, which are already adult only and are known to be lethally harmful, should be phased out from dairies, and eventually all retail stores.”

Research has shown that restriction of tobacco outlets is an effective way to reduce tobacco smoking prevalence, achieve health gains, and save health system costs. “Hāpai supports restricting tobacco sales to fewer, more heavily regulated outlets with the end goal being no retail sales at all,” says Blair.

“Taking tobacco out of dairies and retail in general will de-normalise smoking and by default should reduce uptake of cigarette smoking, especially among young people, and that will reduce cigarette smoking rates overall.”

In addition, anecdotal reports suggest that dairies that remove tobacco from their shelves are less of a target for criminals. Dairy owners that have chosen to stop selling tobacco in order to reduce risk to their employees have reported positive results.

“As part of a supply reduction strategy, it’s time to look at how all dairies can replace the money and traffic they get from cigarettes in ways that better meet the needs of our communities, especially in our more deprived neighbourhoods where dairies and convenience stores are dime-a-dozen and more crime is happening, and a lot of that crime is centred around highly addictive and harmful tobacco products.”

CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, Selah Hart is calling for the Government to act on the recommendations from the Achieving Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025 plan, which was launched in Parliament back in 2017. “Transitioning retailers away from selling tobacco products is one of the main objectives of the plan and we need to see it happening, along with more investment into supporting smokers to quit and making sure cessation products such as vaping are regulated to ensure that they are available to those who want to quit.”

Mihi Blair agrees; “If we’re going to achieve and sustain health equity for those who are affected most by tobacco harm, particularly for our Māori and Pacific population, we’re going to need to work with all areas of society and all levels of decision makers and we need the Government to enact bold policy and legislation to get us to Smokefree2025.”