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Calls For Tobacco Retailers To Pay Up Or Quit Cigarettes

There are calls for NSW to introduce a 'tobacco license' in order to reduce the number of stores selling it in the first place.

As many as 10,000 retailers in the state will continue to sell tobacco products unless more action is taken to reduce its availability, a new survey found.

However, an annual licencing fee would make retailers think again about continuing to sell tobacco products, according to a study from the Cancer Council, Western Sydney University and The University of Sydney.

More than 4,500 retailers in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia were randomly selected for survey, with about 1,830 of these selling or having previously sold tobacco products.

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Outlets that has stopped selling most frequently cited minimal profit and/or sales as the reason.

Five states and territories have introduced an annual licensing fee that retailers must pay to continue selling tobacco products, with retailers in Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT paying between $242 and $297 for an annual licence.

In Western Australia, the only state in the survey that has licencing fees, around 12.5 percent of former tobacco retailers said the annual licence fee was the reason they stopped sales.

Currently, NSW, Victoria and Queensland do not require retailers pay an annual fee to sell tobacco products.

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The Cancer Council is now calling on the state government to implement similar legislation in NSW to reduce the availability of tobacco products.

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Introducing an annual licencing fee has been a "critically-needed" policy in NSW, said Christina Watts, Cancer Council NSW’s Tobacco Control Senior Project Officer and lead author of the research.

"Licensing can be used to restrict the number of retailers within areas, limit the types of outlets that can sell tobacco and/or deter retailers from selling or continuing to sell," she said.

“To date, a strategy to reduce the widespread availability of tobacco has not been comprehensively explored, despite the NSW Government pledging to restrict the availability and supply of tobacco in their 2012-2022 tobacco strategy."

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Up to 45 percent of NSW tobacco retailers would support an annual fee if the money was put towards to  greater enforcement and education of laws, the survey found.

“Smoking still places a huge burden on the community and on people’s lives. If the NSW Government are to achieve the goal of restricting the availability and supply of tobacco, as outlined in their tobacco strategy, the introduction of an annual licence fee for retailers is a common-sense next step," said Watts.