Coles is in hot water from Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon for selling imported cigarettes significantly cheaper than local cigarette brands, undermining the Government’s anti-smoking efforts.
Coles is selling imported discount ‘home brand’ cigarettes in packs of 25 for about $11, or $4 less than an equivalent locally produced product The Herald Sun reports, undermining attempts by the Federal Government to reduce smoking rates by increasing taxes on cigarettes, says federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
Small business is already hurting from the Federal Government’s decision to introduce plain packaging and a new tax hike on cigarettes according to the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), with Coles using it’s market size to import its own brand of cigarettes from overseas, small business will not only lose sales due to the increases in taxes, but will lose out to Coles undercutting their prices as well.
“COSBOA supports strong tobacco control measures to reduce the prevalence of smoking and disease in Australia, but prohibitive pricing and identical packages are not solutions to this problem,” said former COSBOA CEO Jaye Radisich.
“As long as tobacco remains legal to sell, purchase and consume, small businesses should not be inadvertently punished for selling it.
“There is simply no need for these extreme measures in order for the Government to pursue the health outcomes it desires. This has serious ramifications for hardworking small businesses that sell and make an income from a legal product.
“Increasingly the tax on cigarettes will dramatically increase the price, and consumers will be driven to large national chain stores like Coles and Woolworths who can afford to wind back their profit margins to get customers through their doors.” Ms Radisich said.