New research has revealed that one in five tobacco retailers would prefer not to sell tobacco products.
Cancer Council NSW and Western Sydney University carried out the research. Together they sampled a range of tobacco retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores and newsagents.
“A further 37 per cent of retailers asked (in addition to the 20 per cent) were ambivalent about currently selling cigarettes,” Cancer Council NSW Senior Tobacco Control Project Officer Christina Watts said.
“This suggests that close to three in five small tobacco retailers in NSW may consider stopping selling tobacco if encouraged to do so. That would reduce the availability of tobacco in our community and inevitably drive smoking rates down.
“Currently, there are still 5,500 smoking-related deaths in NSW each year, and more than 10,000 tobacco retailers across the state. If retailers are telling us they’d prefer not to sell tobacco, we need legislative changes in NSW to encourage them.”
Is a licence fee the answer?
In light of the findings, Cancer Council NSW is calling on the next NSW government to introduce a yearly licence fee. This would encourage retailers to stop selling and reduce the risk of more people developing the fatal habit, it says.
Cancer Council NSW says the successful rollout of licence fees in most other states and territories has discouraged retailers from selling cigarettes. South Australia, for example, introduced a $200 yearly licence fee in 2007. The result? Almost a quarter of retailers stopping cigarette sales.
“As it stands, there’s a vast oversupply of tobacco in the community,” Ms Watts said.
“Seventy-four per cent of retailers in the study said there was another tobacco retail outlet within 1km distance from their store. A staggering 40 per cent had another store within 100m.
“Yet there’s still no licence scheme in place to regulate who can sell cigarettes. And nothing to discourage retailers from continuing to sell when the products may no longer be important for business.”
Harris Farm backs Cancer Council
Harris Farm Markets is one retailer that decided at its inception not to sell tobacco products.
Co-CEO Tristan Harris said: “Every retailer has a responsibility to consider the impact of every product they sell to their customers. And if it’s a product that has serious health concerns, then that needs to be taken into consideration.
“Harris Farm has been a successful business, despite not selling tobacco products. We’ve grown every year for the past 25 years. If someone still chooses to sell a product like tobacco, I think they absolutely should be required to have a licence and pay a fee.”