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Changes to the Smokefree Environments Act are about to come into force

Tobacco displays will become a thing of the past next month when amendments to the Smoke-Free Environments Act come into force.

To ensure compliance, smoke-free enforcement officers working in district health boards under contract to the Ministry of Health, will do spot checks at retail outlets after 23 July.

If retailers choose to continue selling tobacco after that date, they will need to think carefully about how to receive and store tobacco products and how to get tobacco products to the purchaser without unnecessarily displaying them.

Tobacco retailers will not be able to

  • have tobacco products visible to members of the public, either inside or outside their premises
  • use any retail or trading name signifying that tobacco products are available for sale inside the premises.

Waikato District Health Board alcohol and tobacco enforcement officer Nick Young said it was desirable that the public, especially young people, those trying to quit and ex-smokers are not exposed to the sight of tobacco products.

“If you are selling tobacco products you will need to ensure that these products are not visible except to the extent necessary to complete a sale.

“Retailers who choose to continue selling tobacco products will have a responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act.  Those that do not may face prosecution and a fine of up to $10,000,” he said.

Tobacco sales via the internet in New Zealand are also bound by the Act and must not display tobacco products or tobacco information.

Mr Young said smoke-free enforcement officers would contact retailers to advise of the changes and to conduct compliance checks.

Some of the current required signage, such as ‘Smoking Kills’, will need to be removed.  The Ministry of Health will be producing new approved signage which will be available from the Ministry of Health website www.healthed.govt.nz or from public health units in the DHBs.

“Smoke-free enforcement officers will encourage and support retailers to comply with the legislation and can instigate prosecution action for deliberate and persistent non-compliance,” said Mr Young.

They will continue to carry out controlled purchase operations where volunteers under 18 years of age attempt to purchase tobacco from retailers.  A sale to a young person could result in an instant fine of up to $1000 for the seller, as an alternative to District Court proceedings.

The Ministry of Health publication Guidelines for Implementing the Prohibition on the Display of Tobacco Products is a helpful reference document and can be found at www.health.govt.nz

Alternatively you can contact the Smoke-free Enforcement Officer at Population Health, Waikato District Health Board on (07) 838 2569.

ENDS

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