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The Food and Grocery Council today welcomed the release of the Report from the Maori Affairs Select Committee’s “Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Maori”.
“We acknowledge the huge amount of work that has gone into this inquiry, however there are elements in the Report that we believe represent an overly punitive approach to addressing tobacco use in New Zealand, rather than a focus on ways to constructively work with retailers to keep tobacco out of the hands of young people,” said Food and Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich.
Some of the recommendations in the Report have the potential to negatively impact on the entire retail sector in New Zealand, particularly the suggestion of costly and burdensome retail display bans of tobacco products.
“We would encourage the Government to carefully consider the Report, which has implications beyond just the three tobacco companies operating in New Zealand, and has the potential to force significant financial burdens on small businesses at a time they can least afford it,” said Mrs Rich.
Another concern in the Report is the prospect of New Zealand forcing a legitimate industry to put their products in plain packaging. This will send alarming and unwelcome signals to the food and grocery sector about government appropriation of a company’s intellectual property and the potential destruction of a company’s trade-marks.
“It would have been more constructive for the Report to identify ways in which Government agencies like the Ministry of Health could engage with the retail sector over education and enforcement,” said Mrs Rich, who added that “the Food and Grocery Council will continue to push for more Ministry education of existing laws instead of introducing new burdensome laws”.