Retailers and retail organisations across Australia's major cities have told NFRN councillor and Irish retailer Joe Sweeney that plain packaging on tobacco products has hurt their businesses and is boosting the illicit tobacco trade.
Sweeney travelled to Australia to investigate how plain packaging legislation has affected small shop owners, meeting with retailers in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
He found that many are concerned with the growth of the black market since the introduction of plain pack, as instead of buying cigarettes from legitimate shop owners, consumers are opting for cheaper smuggles tobacco.
"Legal cigarettes cost $20 in Australia, but they can be bought on the black market from as little as $7 dollars a pack. Customers have started going into Australian shops asking for under the counter cigarettes or smuggled cigarettes. They no longer care what they smoke as long as it is cheap," explained Sweeney.
He also found that plain packaging is pushing up the day-to-day costs of running a shop, with many owners now struggling to survive.
"It has doubled the time it takes Australian retailers to place orders, receive deliveries, stock shelves, train staff and to complete sales. All of this extra time adds up and it is a big cost for small businesses."
"One Sydney shop owner told me that can't afford to pay the rent or wages anymore, and one Adelaide retailer said he has been forced to close two stores since the introduction of plain packs."
"If the Government are serious about reducing smoking rates they should first tackle the black market problem in Ireland before introducing more costly red tape for law abiding small businesses," he added.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.