Plenty of fire in backing for anti-smoking

TOUGHER NSW smoking laws targeting motorists and retailers have won widespread praise and sparked calls for other states to follow suit.

Under the new laws expected to come into effect in September, motorists will be fined $250 if caught smoking in a car with children under the age of 16.

Visible cigarette displays in shops, supermarkets and tobacconists will also be phased out.

Freechoice in Magellan Street, Lismore, is a tobacconist, but is also one of Lismore's souvenir shops.

Manager Rebecca Vale said the new laws would certainly hurt her business.

“We are currently writing a petition out because the laws haven't gone through yet, and people who wish to support us can come into the store and sign the petition,” Ms Vale said.

“The new laws will have a very negative effect, especially if they make us black out our front windows. We are not just a tobacconist and we only display souvenirs in our front window.

“Our regular customers will still stick with us but I see a lot of problems. There will be an Occupational Health and Safety problem with us having to open and shut cupboards for every sale, and it is discrimination against customers who are illiterate or foreign as they won't be able to point out the product they want.

“It is also a waste of our time and our customer's time.”

Ms Vale does not believe the new laws will stop children from smoking as the trend towards smoking had already changed.

Lismore City councillor Jenny Dowell said she had pushed for her fellow councillors to support the eight recommendations to the State Government at a council meeting in June.

“I first got an email from the Cancer Council and I jumped at the chance to get behind this,” she said.

“It seems logical to me to promote something that protects children.

“I liken smoking in a car with children to smoking in a cupboard with a child.

“Also many sales are impromptu sales, where people see items on display and that's when they think about it and actually purchase.

“Not having them on display will make people conscious of their decision and they can then request them.”

Cr Dowell said the new laws would not have a great affect on small business.

“If people are going to smoke, they will seek out those places but it just shouldn't be children,” she said.

“I don't think it will affect business too much as the number of people smoking is diminishing anyway.

“I think we need to limit the exposure for new smokers and treat it as health issue for those already addicted.”

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