Shops kick tobacco habit

By Viv Logie
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At least three Greymouth dairy owners have stubbed out tobacco sales, in another body blow to the ‘dying’ habit.
Merv ‘n’ Kips dairy owner Margaret MacDonald said today she was no longer stocking any tobacco products, and had been letting stocks run down over the past couple of months.
It was a “calculated” decision, she said, because the business was not making any money from selling them anyway.
Those who were unhappy with her decision only had to cross the road to the BP service station in Tainui Street, Mrs MacDonald said.
“Initially I was selling only smaller sizes and certain brands, but decided to stop selling them altogether as my staff were being abused for not having the full range — and that was not acceptable.
“My business is a dairy not a tobacconist,” she said.
While it was a “very big” decision to stop the sales, she had no regrets.
Sante Fe Dairy owner Allan Meaclem said his Turumaha Street business had not stocked cigarettes for three years.
“I stopped selling them because they are bad for you and the outlay for them was too expensive,” Mr Meaclem said.
When he was stocking tobacco he had $15,000 of stock that had to be locked away — “so I thought, why bother?”
“Smoking is an expensive habit. People could save between $9000 to $13,000 a year if they weren’t doing it.”
Munchies on Marsden new owners Vicki Robertson and Richard Mons made a conscious decision when they took over the business recently to not stock cigarettes.
Mr Mons said the dairy was close to Greymouth High School and numerous sporting fields so they decided it was something they did not want to sell.
“We have had lots of positive feedback after deciding not to sell cigarettes — people are saying to us ‘well done’ and these comments far outweigh the negative comments.”
The odd person was upset when they had to walk out empty handed, but he believed the decision to kick out cigarettes was much better for the neighbourhood and the shop.
Tobacco sales did not bring people into the shop and most of the time those who purchased them did not buy anything else.
“We still sell milk, bread and newspapers, as well as lollies. We are targeting younger people and selling cigarettes did not fit in with that,” Mr Mons said.
Other dairies surveyed this morning — Cobden Takeaways, Four Js Takeaways at Paroa, Karoro School Store and the Top Shop in Runanga — are still selling smokes at this stage.
Karoro Store owner Gerry Glen said his cigarette cabinet was not as well stocked as it was years ago.
“I have the bare minimum. Cigarettes are the dearest item in the shop, with the least return.”
West Coast Tobacco Coalition chairwoman Anne Hines said it was “fabulous” news that local dairies were pulling smokes off the shelves and she hoped it would encourage more to follow suit. “It is recognition that a bad habit it on its way out.”