Tobacco retailer safety

With the continually rising price of tobacco and cigarettes, and a presumption (mine) that people inclined towards committing crime and those associated with them  also tend to be inclined towards smoking, the number of robberies related to tobacco have increased. These robberies are often violent, and dairy owners and staff  are often the victims.

Dairies can choose whether to stock tobacco products or not, but it is a major source of revenue for the small businesses. Who should be responsible for their safety?

Of course the police have a duty to protect any retailer of legal products from theft and violence – to an extent. They cant be at every dairy all the time.

ACT MP David Seymour is suggesting that the Government direct more of the substantial amount of tax and duties they get from tobacco into paying for retailer safety.

Another suggestion is to admit that escalating taxes and prices have created an unintended consequence, and lowering the taxes would alleviate the theft and violence problem but that is debatable.

Today’s ODT editorial looks at the problem, and comes up with what should have been an obvious answer – tobacco product suppliers should protect their retailers.

ODT: The smoking gun of tobacco taxes

Dairy owners are again starting to worry that the next person who enters their shop may be a thief who could turn violent as he or she demands cash and, increasingly, tobacco products.

A search of media outlets shows a pattern of increasing crime against sellers of tobacco products, as their price has escalated through increased excise taxes.

The New Zealand tobacco industry says it makes a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy in terms of government revenue, retail sales and employment. It pays more than $1.8 billion in total taxes each year.

Tobacco products make their largest financial contribution to the economy in the form of excise taxation. The industry also says tobacco is an important source of revenue for about 5000 New Zealand retailers, the vast majority of whom are small, independent retailers and dairies.

A debate has again broken out about who should pay for the protection of the retailers selling the tobacco products. Fewer outlets are now selling tobacco and communities celebrate the success, believing fewer people are smoking as outlets reduce.

However, aggressive cost-cutting has helped some of the largest tobacco companies retain their profits, despite falling sales.

One of the arguments being made to help protect dairy owners is to just stop selling tobacco, of course ignoring the fact tobacco is a legal product and a genuine part of a service dairy owners can offer their customers. Unless another high-margin product emerges to replace it, dairy owners will still sell tobacco.

Act New Zealand leader David Seymour is at the other end of the spectrum, saying after two violent robberies in less than a week, it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.

The money collected by the Government each year in tobacco tax revenue is blood money, obtained by putting the lives of people at risk, he says.

But Mr Seymour is somewhat off the mark when he calls for the Government to direct 10% of tobacco tax revenue to protect vulnerable business owners.

Surely it is time for the tobacco companies themselves to start protecting the people they want to sell their products? Revenues from global tobacco sales are estimated to be close to $965 billion, generating combined profits for the six largest firms of $67.5 billion.

That’s a good point. If tobacco companies want to protect their sales and profits perhaps they should do more to protect their retailers.

5 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  March 22, 2018

    Arun Kumar was killed in 2014. This was before the ciggie tax went ballistic.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11864049
    Our dairy owners have been under attack for years.
    There is a certain section of our society that think Asian shop workers are easy targets.

    Those attackers that get caught, get lenient sentences.

  2. Zedd

     /  March 22, 2018

    Using higher taxes to try & restrict Tobacco is just plain DUMB. It is having a similar effect to prohibition; creating a black-market & robberies to obtain ‘the product’
    As long as their is a demand, there will be those willing to continue the supply, even org. crime/gangsters !

  3. Corky

     /  March 22, 2018

    ”Surely it is time for the tobacco companies themselves to start protecting the people they want to sell their products? Revenues from global tobacco sales are estimated to be close to $965 billion, generating combined profits for the six largest firms of $67.5 billion.”

    That suggestion is extremely flawed. Should Subaru protect the owners of Subaru Imprezza’s( high target for car theft) from car theft?

    I have a great idea. Allow shop owners the choice of arming themselves after going through an approved firearms course. Makes senses to me, especially given many shop owners probably wouldn’t choose that option… until they see Ahmed the diary owner kill two scumbags trying to rob him, and notice Ahmed and his loved ones weren’t injured.

    People have told me that will never happen. Of course they are right. A young scumbag has just been given Home D after bashing his baby and the missus for good measure.

    Yep, a few months HD. We prefer our babies and citizens either injured or killed…in no particular order.

  4. Trevors_elbow

     /  March 22, 2018

    Sorry Pete but this is bs… “Of course the police have a duty to protect any retailer of legal products from theft and violence – to an extent.”

    Allowing the Police to abdicate their duty and obligation to keep the peace is inviting vigilante action… private militias… vendetta.

    The Police know who the perps are and where they operate. They need to sort it out and now….

    No to mention that statement also smacks of victim blaming…. try that with sexual assault on female walking the road home at 2am…. it doesnt wash their and it doesnt wash with raids on dairys either