Thursday, 19 July 2012

Plain packaging of shops: banned from calling themselves tobacconists

When the tobacco display ban was first suggested I feared immediately that it would result in more illicit trade. I felt it was important that shops should retain the ability to inform customers that they did in fact sell tobacco: since advertising was banned, this would not necessarily be easy. But I thought the authorities would want people to recognise lawful outlets for tobacco if only for the sake of getting the revenue. I didn't really expect authorities to go to the length of banning the word tobacconist from the signage of shops.

This is why:
The Smoke-Free Environments Act prohibits the display of tobacco products, or advertising that a business sells tobacco products.
 A business must change its name to satisfy this legislation, and this article features a business that has been calling itself a tobacconist for 50 years, since its establishment in 1962.

The proprietor's work in establishing and building this trading name and the business has been set at no value by an Act of Parliament that has denied him the right to use it. No doubt they will claim, as plain packaging advocates in Australia claim, that compensation is irrelevant since the government does not gain by depriving businesses of their trading name.

Well actually it does gain: by forcing businesses to change their names, it appropriates more power at the expense of traders. It would be nice to see a challenge to these powers to see if they are legal – while remembering that everything that Hitler did was legal.

The plan is to stop people from associating tobacco with lawful trade and legitimate shops. It it hard to see anything other than a concerted attempt to push the whole business underground and pretend that this will result in improved health.

They can make laws against tobacco but not against people taking risks with their health – especially in times of extreme uncertainty such as we are living in at present. They may succeed in outlawing tobacco but the health outcomes will not change for the better.


Jonathan Bagley said...

He changed the name to Hairdresser and Mens'Gifts. It seems that tobacco might be becoming, "something for the weekend, Sir?", which will, of course, only add to its allure.

Anonymous said...

It would have been amusing to see what would have happened if the New Zealand guy had changed his name by deed poll to 'Retail Tobacconist':


Anonymous said...

Or, they can begin advertising out front using the negatives, of everything they are not.

For example:

Not a sweets shop.
Not a liquor store.
Not a haberdashery.
Not a barber.
Not a variety store.

List enough "not's", omitting the obvious, until someone finally understands, by omission, what they DO sell.

David said...

They want to drive small independent community shops out of business, as they do with the pub equivalents. In their minds it would solve so many of what they consider to be social ills.