Australian plain packaging ‘doubling time’ needed for tobacco sales, says NFRN’s Joe Sweeney

NFRN Councillor Joe Sweeney with Zain, a retailer in Sydney

NFRN Councillor travels to Australia to discover the impact of plain packaging at first-hand

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26 February 2015 | 0

Tobacco plain packaging has “doubled the time it takes Australian retailers” to place and receive tobacco orders and complete sales,according to Irish retailer and NFRN Councillor Joe Sweeney.

Sweeney travelled to Australia last week to investigate first hand the effects of plain packaging on small shop owners in Australia. During his visit, he met with a number of shop owners and retail organisations in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The NFRN Councillor says retailers in Australia are very concerned with the growth in the black market since the introduction of plain packs. Instead of buying cigarettes from legitimate shop owners there are more people than ever buying smuggled cigarettes in Australia.

“Legal cigarettes cost $20 in Australia, but they can be bought on the black market from as little as $7 dollars a pack. Customers have started going into Australian shops asking for under the counter cigarettes or smuggled cigarettes. They no longer care what they smoke as long as it is cheap,” said Sweeney.

Plain packaging has also pushed up the day-to-day costs for businesses in Australia and many shop owners are now struggling to survive since the introduction of plain packaging.

According to Sweeney: “It has doubled the time it takes Australian retailers to place orders, receive deliveries, stock shelves, train staff and to complete sales. All of this extra time adds up and it is a big cost for small businesses.”

“One Sydney shop owner told me that can’t afford to pay the rent or wages anymore, and one Adelaide retailer said he has been forced to close two stores since the introduction of plain packs.

“If the government are serious about reducing smoking rates they should first tackle the black market problem in Ireland before introducing more costly red tape for law abiding small businesses.

“Instead, the government should focus on education campaigns and other policies that have been proven to work, rather than pursing a policy that has only succeeded in hurting businesses in and fuelling the black market in Australia,” he added.

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