Tobacco retailers: Display regulations won't work

The draft display regulations were published in 2010 for public comment and amended in November 2012. (Gallo)

The draft display regulations were published in 2010 for public comment and amended in November 2012. (Gallo)

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's proposed stricter tobacco display regulations will harm the retail business, a retailer said on Tuesday.

Tobacco specialist franchise JJ Cale chief executive Warren Dreyer objected to Motsoaledi's draft regulations, which aim to limit the display of tobacco products in a shop.

"We respectfully ask the minister of health to exempt specialist tobacconists from the proposed display regulations.

"Under the new regulation, we will need to fit more than 800 tobacco products into a four square metre area. This includes pipes, cigarettes, tobacco, snuff, cigars that aren't in humidors, and even hookah pipes," Dreyer said.

He owns eight shops, all inside malls, which are all on average 45 square metres. He employs 40 people.

The draft regulations were published in 2010 for public comment and amended in November 2012.

Limited exposure
"[In 2012] stores that are 15 square metres or less were exempted; we're asking for specialist tobacco stores to be exempt as well," Dreyer said.

"Instead of regulating us out of business, we think a good alternative is to impose an age restriction on those entering our store [like the alcohol industry]," he said.

If the draft regulations were implemented, specialist shops such as Dreyer's would limit the smaller brands' exposure.

"This will limit consumers' choice and entrench the market position of the larger companies ... and may be anti-competitive," Dreyer said.

Kevin Uren, chief executive of Wicked Imports, which distributes tobacco products to 800 shops including Dreyer's, said the minister's plan would not work.

"I don't think it will curb smoking, it will just make it harder for people to buy them. Smokers will smoke," Uren said.

Motsoaledi's spokesperson Joe Maila said the contents of the final regulations could not be discussed until they were published.

"Members of the public and interested parties submitted their inputs and the department is considering all the submissions before the final regulations are passed and published," Maila said.

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