More restrictions needed on selling tobacco

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Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand yet we still have around 8,000 tobacco retailers. On World Smokefree Day the Cancer Society and Hāpai te Hauora are calling for tighter restrictions on tobacco sales.

“Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 aims for at least 95% of New Zealanders across all population groups being Smokefree by 2025. As the Government has indicated, we’re not going to get there unless there is a dramatic decrease in the number of places selling tobacco” says Shayne Nahu, Cancer Society Advocacy and Wellbeing Manager (Te Arawa, Tainui, Irish).

Tara Aitcheson is the owner of Tasty Treats dairy and café in Christchurch. She chose to stop selling tobacco and has never looked back. She’s encouraging other retailers to join her to Stop the Stock in our communities. As well as the health benefits for her customers, there’s other benefits for not stocking tobacco including safety and profit.

“I can make a similar level of profit by selling one cheese roll and I would feel better about selling this. Business owners need to be prepared for the move away from tobacco, profit from food is higher,” says Aitcheson.

 “It’s well-known that more people are likely to smoke when there are more outlets near to where they live and smokers are less likely to quit. There’s evidence that the more tobacco retailers there are around a school, the more likely students will smoke, engage in experimental smoking and be susceptible to smoking in the future” says Nahu.

“Add to that the higher density of tobacco retail outlets in deprived areas with high smoking rates and you can see the problem. Restrictions on where tobacco is sold will create a significant impact in reducing tobacco-related diseases” continues Nahu.

Cancer Society research showed one third of dairy owners and managers surveyed could be interested in becoming tobacco-free retailers if there is enough support.

The research also showed that 64.5% of dairy’s surveyed had security concerns about selling tobacco. A third of dairies had been broken into the previous year and had tobacco products stolen. Selling tobacco is dangerous.

“Tobacco is a draw card for thieves, they’re not after lollies,” says Tara Aitcheson.

Cancer Society calls for urgent action from Government and supports their intention to create a Tobacco Control Action Plan to achieve Smokefree 2025. 

“We strongly urge the inclusion of measures to reduce the supply of tobacco in this Action Plan” says Nahu.

World Smokefree Day 2019 marks the start of new campaign leadership for Hāpai te Hauora and the Cancer Society. In 2019 these two organisations have used the month of May as a platform to encourage a focused and national conversation around tobacco supply in our communities by promoting the new campaign ‘Stop the Stock’.

Hāpai te Hauora are calling for all New Zealand organisations and businesses to pledge action to help create a tobacco-free Generation. Auahi Kore Aotearoa: New Zealand’s Charter for a Smokefree Generation will be released today on World Smokefree Day. 


Media Contact for interviews and additional information

Cancer Society

Mary Direen, Communications and Marketing Manager
Cancer Society of New Zealand
04 494 7198, 021 801 243

Hāpai te Hauora

Elizabeth Strickett
Research and Communications Coordinator
09 520 4796, 021 268 4916

More information can be found here:


Q+A from Tara Aitcheson

Tara is the owner of Tasty Treats dairy and café, 56 Wordsworth Street, Christchurch.

How long has your premise been tobacco-free? Since Sept 2018. I bought the business last year and decided not to sell smokes from the start. Previous owner did sell cigarettes

What was the main reason(s) you decided to stop selling tobacco? Safety issues. Work on own most of the time, worried about theft.

What products did you introduce as an alternative to tobacco? Take away food, and hot food. Store is becoming more of a lunch bar than dairy. Have increased range of drinks by about 50%.

Why did you choose these products?  Good footfall, relatively busy area somewhat industrial food and drinks are popular.

How profitable have alternative products been so far compared to tobacco? I can make similar level of profit by selling one cheese roll and I would feel better about selling this.

What has been the reaction of your customers / community to your shop going tobacco free?  Some people have wanted cigarettes but majority of customers are supportive of the decision not to sell smokes.

Since you stopped selling tobacco have you noticed any significant changes in your customer base?  Previous owner run the business down, but regular customers are coming back.

Please tell us your level of agreement with the following statement. “I would recommend other retailers consider not selling tobacco products” Strongly agree    

General comments from Tara. Profit margin is ‘stuff all’ with tobacco, no point holding thousands of dollars of stock if there is so little profit. Another positive was that there was a drop in cost of insurance.  I feel that tobacco is a draw card for thieves, they’re not after lollies.  Business owners need to be prepared for the move away from tobacco, profit from food is higher and I feel better about selling this.