Retailers selling cigarettes cheap to meet plain packaging rules

Plain Cigarette Packs

Cigarettes have been available for less than $5 per pack as sellers get rid of branded stock that got unlawful from December 1.

Starting with December 1, sellers had to put aside any branded cigarettes and return it to cigarette makers so it could be eliminated.

All tobacco products must now be marketed in plain packaging with health warning labels covering 75% of the pack.

Rather than hand over their unsold cigarettes, some retailers are almost giving freely.

A News Limited review of 100 shops across Australia identified widespread discounts.

One in six shops surveyed were marketing 20s for as little as $10. A shop in Adelaide was offering branded cigarette packs for just $5.

Plain-packaged cigarettes were also being greatly reduced.

Action on Smoking and Health chief Anne Jones said the tobacco companies had endangered to flood the market with low-cost cigarettes after plain packaging was released and this could be the cause plain-packaged cigarettes were being marketed inexpensively.

But cigarette firms rejected they were employed in discounting.

Imperial Tobacco Australia reports up to 540 million cigarette sticks covered in now {unlawful branded packaging will have to be eliminated due to the new regulations.

From December 1, people selling tobacco in branded packaging confront fines of $1320 to $220,000 according to the new plain-packaging program.

A corporation can get penalties of $6600 to $1.1 million.

Nevertheless, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said her main goal is big cigarette makers, and those supervising the new regulations are not likely to go in hard against mum-and-dad shopkeepers in the first instance.

“If we had a large chain intentionally breaking the regulations selling branded tobacco imported, then we would go for a maximum fine,” she said.

Scores of sellers spoken to by News Limited said sales had slipped since plain-packaged cigarettes first started to reach stores more than two months ago.

More than a quarter of shops surveyed described drops, some by up to 25%.

Cancer Council Australia chief Professor Ian Olver said that the proposed purpose of the plain packs to discourage new smokers may surpass expectations and also help current smokers to stop smoking.

Federal Government is dealing with a challenge to the laws under World Trade Organisation rules.

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