New Zealand is considering following suit to Australia with the possible introduction of plain packaging to cigarette packets, however the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) believes early signs of the so-called reform is only damaging to retailers.

According to feedback from members of the AACS, the ramifications for Australian retailers have seen several brands go out of stock or become unavailable during the changeover.

AACS executive director Jeff Rogut said while the volume of tobacco sold has not been impacted by the plain packaging reforms, the cost burden on individual retailers has escalated.

“In most cases stores reported that the transition to plain packaged stock has involved a significant investment in time and money. Re-training staff, preparing stock returns and implementing new inventory management procedures are just some of the administrative burdens retailers have had to face,” he said.

“Additionally, while tobacco suppliers have been generally supportive in swapping non-compliant stock for plain packaged stock, the fact that there has been no uniform process for retailers to be fully compensated for old stock has added to this burden.”

According to AACS members, plain packaging has had no impact on the volume of tobacco sold and therefore has not generated any positive health implications thus far.

“This is unsurprising given there was never any evidence to suggest that plain packaging would impact levels of tobacco consumption. Instead, it merely serves to create additional burdens on retailers while encouraging the illicit trade of tobacco,” Rogut said.

“As many have previously pointed out, education is the key to improving health outcomes as they relate to smoking.”