The NRA said that the proposal put forward by the government to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to consider allowing only pharmacies to sell smoke-free nicotine products is the ‘worst of both worlds’ for convenience shops. NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that this would create a monopoly, to the detriment of small convenience retailers, as they are heavily reliant on tobacco sales.
“This makes no sense, that cigarettes would be freely available over the counter in corner stores and service stations, but the product that can help people transition away from smoking would be restricted. So outside doctors’ or pharmacists’ work hours, the only available option would be cigarettes. This flies in the face of common sense,” she added.
Ms Lamb added that excluding small businesses from the safer alternatives’ market in this manner, would put these businesses at risk, disrupt market dynamics, and also be counterproductive to public health.
Why giving monopolistic power to pharmacies would be counterproductive?
Naturally, Australasian Association of Convenience Stores CEO Jeff Rogut concurs. He has written to the federal government in protest of the proposal. “We absolutely disagree with pharmacies being given any more monopolistic power than they already have. We have called for deregulation of the pharmacy industry which the government to date has ignored,” said Rogut.
“We have joined with other Associations in writing to the government, in particular the Health Minister, to put the case for making e-cigarettes more freely available, although with regulations around their sale. Studies overseas have shown that they are ‘safer’ than tobacco for people who choose to smoke. To date we have not had the courtesy of a response.”
“Our customers are seeking these products now and to have to refer them to pharmacies who only trade over limited hours or days of the week just does not make sense. It also opens the door more widely for illicit products to be sold due to the lack of availability of e-cigarettes potentially when customers wish to buy them i.e. through convenience stores 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
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