Bart Muscat, owner of Lismore Free Choice Store, serves Alicia Williams, of Inverell. Bart is happy to have another three years before regulations forcing all retailers to cover tobacco products take full effect.
Bart Muscat, owner of Lismore Free Choice Store, serves Alicia Williams, of Inverell. Bart is happy to have another three years before regulations forcing all retailers to cover tobacco products take full effect. Jay Cronan

Tobacco covered in major outlets

SMOKERS, your drug of choice is going to disappear from view.

It is now illegal for large outlets to display all tobacco products, which must be concealed in drawers that show only the prices.

On New Year’s Day, NSW became the first state to enact the ban, which has been approved by most other governments.

Here and in the ACT, retailers that employ more than 50 people, such as the Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, and their affiliated servos, must keep their ciggies under wraps.

Smaller outlets such as news-agents and corner stores have until July 1 to cover up, and specialist tobacconist shops have a grace period of three years.

The ban is expected to have a significant impact on smoking in NSW, which has not recorded much of a drop in the past couple of years.

ASH spokesman Stafford Sanders said: “There is very good research evidence to show that concealing these products has an impact on the attitude of children to tobacco. It has been effectively shown that the visibility of tobacco has an impact on children’s perception of how normal smoking is, and covering them up will flow through to child uptake.

“Plus, keeping tobacco out of sight will help those people who want to give up smoking – about two thirds of smokers – and discourage them from impulse buying.”

But specialist tobacco retailer Bart Muscat, who owns Free Choice in Lismore’s Magellan Street, believes that tobacco is here to stay, and that legislation to control it is little more than a revenue-earning device.

“As part of the new laws I now have to apply for a licence to sell tobacco, which costs me $250,” he said.

“The government already makes billions on cigarettes. It’s hard on small businesses.”

But, he says, the new laws are good for his business.

“The others have to cover their stock, so people are coming to me because I have a wider range and I know what I’m talking about.”



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