Dairy owners should stop selling cigarettes “if they feel too threatened” by robbers, says Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner.
Assuming this is a correct reflection of what was said, that is an appalling view. Should women stop going out for jogs if they feel threatened by rapists? Should banks stop dispensing money if they feel threatened by robbers?
The Government has turned tobacco into a soaring black market item due to repeated excise tax increases (for the right motivation – to reduce smoking rates) and this has resulted in scores of dairy robberies.
And the Minister then turns around and basically says “Tough”. Just stop selling a legal product. Something that would fuel the black market even more.
Many dairies would go bankrupt of they did not sell tobacco, as they would lose so many customers (who often buy other stuff when there). So the Minister seems to be saying to hundreds of small business owners that they should go out of business rather than have an environment in which they can operate safely.
Ms Wagner said cigarette sales might be more appropriate for liquor outlets.
“Maybe we should sell them with alcohol because the security systems in an alcohol convenience store is usually much higher than [in] a dairy,” she said.