The NSW Government has presented small retailers with a $127 million bill to comply with proposed tobacco display regulations, putting retail jobs on the line.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said the total bill would be shared across 1300 small- and medium-sized retailers who would each be liable for up to $30,000 to meet their obligations under the planned tobacco display laws.
“While the public benefits of a tobacco display ban are uncertain, the costs for small retailers are significant. The proposed regulations threaten jobs and the ongoing viability of NSW retailers,” said Evans.
Under the proposed regulations, store owners can be fined or banned from selling tobacco products if cigarette packets are within the view of customers, which will result in a complete refit of current displays, as well as ongoing training, customer service and restocking issues.
“The bill for reconfiguring existing shop displays may amount to between $6000 and $10,000 per store and this doesn’t even take into consideration the costs associated with required after hours restocking, staff training and increased transaction times.
“This is potentially a massive financial burden for small retailers to carry when we consider there is no international evidence that restricting the display of cigarettes actually reduces the uptake of smoking,” said Evans.
In fact, other economies including Canada and New Zealand have dismissed similar regulations based on the huge expense and lack of supporting evidence.
While retailers fully appreciate the health dangers associated with smoking, the financial impact of these regulations is not a public health issue. The ARA’s concern is about an increased cost to retailers when they can least afford it.
“In the March quarter retail confidence fell to the lowest level compared to any other industry sector. To ease the burden and cut costs for small retailers the Rees Government must reconsider and make amendments to the proposed tobacco display regulations,” said Evans.