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Dairies not happy about plain packaging

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/05/2016 Sarah Robson

Plain cigarette packaging will only cause more grief for dairy owners, industry groups say.

The government is pushing ahead with its plans to bring in plain packaging for cigarettes and on Tuesday it revealed what it wants the packs to look like.

It's out with the logos, iconic colours and distinctive branding, and in with the uniform brown-green packaging and even bigger mandatory health warnings.

All tobacco imagery will be removed and while brand names will be allowed, there will be rules to standardise how and where the printing is.

The move has broad political support and has been welcomed by the likes of the New Zealand Medical Association and anti-smoking lobby group ASH.

But dairy owners aren't happy.

"The proposal will achieve little aside from forcing increased transaction costs onto the retail sector as staff hunt for the correct pack of tobacco," New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores chairman Roger Bull said.

"With every pack essentially the same, the government's proposal will translate directly to hindering a retailer's ability to provide a quick and efficient customer service - a vital hallmark of the convenience retail sector."

Retail NZ says the sale of tobacco is already highly regulated.

"Last week's announcements about massive tax hikes on the price of tobacco creates real security risks for small retailers, and plain packaging will add even more complexity to stock management within dairies, and cause inconvenience for consumers," spokesman Greg Harford said.

The government wants the Smokefree Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill passed by the end of the year.

That could mean plain cigarette packets could be on shelves early next year.

The government first mooted plain packaging back in 2012 and the bill to bring it in passed its first reading back in February 2014.

It went to a select committee, but the government put it on hold because it was worried about the possibility of legal challenges from tobacco companies.

The Australian government was being sued at the time, but in December 2015 legal action taken by Philip Morris failed.

However, Australia is still waiting for the outcome of a challenge to its plain packaging laws that is being dealt with by the World Trade Organisation.

Despite that, the government insists now is the right time for New Zealand to proceed with plain packaging.

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