Tuesday 14 February 2023

Tobacco maps

A little while back, the Ministry of Health put up some indicative maps of where licensed tobacco retailers might be allowed to operate.

The government has decided that rather than being available at some 6000 outlets, cigarettes will only be allowed at 600 outlets across the country.

Lots of things will enter into Ministry considerations of which outlets might be allowed to continue functioning, and which dairies might go bankrupt if they rely heavily on tobacco sales. 

They write:
If there are too many applicants in one area, the following criteria could be useful to distinguish between retail applications (Appendix 3 provides further detail). These criteria may be defined in Regulations.
  • Business related criteria: criteria like security, sales systems and training, could be used to rank applicants. For example, in terms of sales systems, the business needs to have considered factors such as their supply chain – ensuring that they will have the right amount of stock to service demand. We propose that detailed proposals would be acceptable within an application, to avoid retailers’ incurring costs prior to approval of an application.
  • Proximity and location: certain criteria may relate to the location of the retail premise or specific community needs. For example, distance from schools or sports grounds may be relevant.  Communities may feel that there are areas where it is less appropriate for smoked tobacco retail premises to operate (such as near schools or marae). Additionally, ensuring that the premises are spread across each area may be important.
  • A history of compliance with the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act, by the applicant (the entity or individual) and any responsible people over the previous 5 years may be relevant.
  • The nature of the business may be relevant – for example, retail premises selling alcohol, convenience goods and/or groceries might rank lower on this criterion while stores only selling smoked tobacco products may score higher, because we are of the view that selling tobacco products alongside everyday grocery items normalises these products.
  • A ‘specialist outlet’ category could allow for a certain number of retail premises specialising in smoked tobacco products that are not cigarettes (eg, cigars) to score higher.
The Director-General may weight the criteria or give them an equal consideration. We are interested in feedback about what criteria is of most importance, or least importance

Proximity to schools is a fun one. It reminds me of a map that City Beautiful had put up last year. They were looking at the proximity rules for vape shops, when the Asthma Foundation was trying to ban them within a kilometre of schools. 

On this map of Auckland, every green dot is a school. Every circle draws a one-kilometre radius around a school. And the orange bits? Those are the only places that are outside of the circles and that are zoned for shops. 

So if the government took a hard line on proximity to schools, well, there aren't many places in Auckland where one could run a shop. And in small towns, it'll be tough to find somewhere that's farther than a kilometre from the school. 

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