How over 4,000 New Zealand’s iconic family-owned ‘dairies’ are closed due to smoking ban


An emblematic element of Kiwi life, the local “dairy” could be threatened with extinction due to Jacinda Ardern’s radical ban on the sale of tobacco.

Plans to make New Zealand smoke-free, starting with banning young people from buying cigarettes, could have a devastating impact on the 4,000 small, family-owned corner stores known as “dairies.”

The plan will see smoking phased out, with anyone aged 14 never allowed to buy cigarettes from 2025 and older generations being limited to low-nicotine products.

Now some health experts across the divide in Australia are calling for similar quit smoking measures Down Under.

Plans to make New Zealand smoke-free by starting with banning young people from buying cigarettes could have a devastating impact on the 4,000 small family-owned corner stores known as ‘dairies’

An emblematic part of Kiwi life, the

An iconic part of Kiwi life, the local “dairy” could be threatened with extinction due to the sweeping ban on the sale of tobacco proposed by Jacinda Ardern

The plan would see smoking phased out, with anyone aged 14 never able to buy cigarettes from 2025 and older generations being limited to low-nicotine products.

The plan would see smoking phased out, with anyone aged 14 never able to buy cigarettes from 2025 and older generations being limited to low-nicotine products.

Importantly, the plan will reduce the number of stores licensed to sell the addicting product, putting many dairies at risk.

Of the 8,000 retailers (which include supermarkets) currently licensed to sell tobacco in New Zealand, fewer than 500 will be allowed to continue stocking the product, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

These stores will not be compensated for the loss of income, potentially disastrous news for the many dairies that depend heavily on tobacco sales for their survival.

Kiwis grew up with a dairy within walking distance of their front door, making them an intrinsic part of ‘Kiwiana’ culture, immortalized in photography and art.

New Zealand-led government proposal will see smoking eventually eradicate from society

New Zealand-led government proposal will see smoking eventually eradicate from society

The arrival of the supermarket giants in New Zealand in the 1980s meant that Kiwis stopped buying their staples such as bread, milk and vegetables from dairies and stores turned to selling junk food and tobacco to survive.

Cigarette sales account for more than half of revenue for some, including High Street Dairy in Taranaki, owner Janet Lin told stuff.co.nz.

“Customers come to buy cigarettes and tobacco, they never come to buy milk or bread,” Ms. Lin said.

She says she “can’t afford” the change and will be forced to lay off staff.

Many family dairies would not be compensated for lost income due to lost tobacco sales, potentially disastrous news for the many dairies that rely heavily on them for survival.

Many family dairies would not be compensated for lost income due to lost tobacco sales, potentially disastrous news for the many dairies that rely heavily on them for survival.

Bans on the sale of cigarettes could lead to the collapse of many dairies, said Dairy and Business Owners Group chairman Sunny Kaushal.

“We all want a smoke-free New Zealand, but destroying dairies, lives and families in the process is not the way to go. It would happen, Mr Kaushal said.

This will force most to change their business models to improve their income, while many are expected to sell their products.

It is understood that the Kiwi franchisee of the giant North American Circle K chain, owned by the Canadian multinational Alimentation Couche-Tard, wishes to convert at least 100 dairies to its model.

More than 15,000 Circle K stores – most of them franchisees – operate in the United States, Canada and Europe.

New Zealand officials believe the country will save $ 5 billion in tobacco-related health costs thanks to the 2025 Smoke-Free Action Plan (stock image)

New Zealand officials believe the country will save $ 5 billion in tobacco-related health costs through the 2025 Smoke-Free Action Plan (stock image)

This franchisee, Pamma Retail Group, already owns four Circle K stores in downtown Auckland.

Another chain operator, Night n’Day – which has around 50 convenience stores in New Zealand – has built a model beyond the traditional dairy.

It heavily markets hot food offerings – especially fast food – as well as sales of ice cream and coffee.

About one in five premature deaths each year in New Zealand is directly attributable to smoking, according to the New Zealand Department of Health.

“About 5,000 people die each year in New Zealand from smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. That’s 13 people a day, ”a statement from the Ministry of Health said.

But heart disease is even more deadly, responsible for the deaths of more than 6,000 people a year in New Zealand, which equates to 18 lives a day.

New Zealand’s rate of heart disease is above the OECD average.

New Zealand plans to become the world's first smoke-free nation after 2025

New Zealand plans to become the world’s first smoke-free nation after 2025

Some Australian health experts have praised the Kiwi Plan and called for more to be done to quit smoking.

Professor Carol Gartner in an article for the Medical Journal of Australia said Australia should consider measures similar to New Zealand’s.

“Cigarettes do not meet modern consumer product safety standards,” wrote Gartner and colleagues.

“It is normal for governments to withdraw dangerous products such as contaminated food, asbestos and lead paint from the market.

“We don’t want to criminalize people and are not talking about making tobacco illegal… but we need to start researching now and consulting on acceptable alternative options.”

But not everyone is convinced by New Zealand’s radical plan.

Former Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten has publicly expressed his doubts over New Zealand’s sweeping smoking ban proposal, saying it could lead to an explosion in black market sales.

Speaking on Channel Nine’s The Today Show, the Shadow Minister of Government Services told co-host Sylvia Jeffreys that the goal of eradicating the deadly habit across Tasman was a healthy approach – but equally dangerous.

“I was uncomfortable when I read about it… Both of my parents died of catastrophic heart attacks and they were both longtime smokers. I’m not a fan of smoking, ” Shorten said Friday morning.

“On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of governments in our lives… we’re basically saying that smoking is illegal, it will lead to a black market in cigarettes.”

Up to 13 Kiwis die each day from smoking-related illnesses, but more die from heart disease

Up to 13 Kiwis die each day from smoking-related illnesses, but more die from heart disease

NEW ZEALAND’S RADICAL PLAN TO TACKLE TOBACCO

Under the new proposals, young people under the age of 14 will never be allowed to buy cigarettes in New Zealand.

Each year this age limit will increase, increasing the percentage of the population that will never be legally allowed to smoke.

The minimum age for buying cigarettes in New Zealand remains at 18 for the time being.

The government is also restricting the number of stores authorized to sell cigarettes.

Each year an additional age group will be added to the ban list until it is illegal for the whole country under New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s radical plan (pictured)

Only 500 copies nationwide will be licensed, similar to a bottle store license to sell alcohol.

The nicotine content of cigarettes is also reduced in order to fight against their addiction.

Cigarette prices increased 10 percent each year between 2011 and 2020, but that hasn’t stopped smokers from quitting.

Eventually – with the deaths of existing smokers – health officials hope to see the whole country smoke-free.

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