Tim Walker’s Smoke V

The ACT party is pushing an initiative that would see a portion of Government tobacco tax used to increase safety around New Zealand’s cigarette retailers.

Disgracefully, Auckland dairy owners are still having their livelihoods torn apart at the hands of petty criminals, who no doubt perceive these – typically Indian – convenience store operators as ‘easy targets’ or ‘an easy way to get some quick cash’…

This audacious spate of ‘petty’ lawlessness – where intruders enter a shop, scare/beat the attendant into submission then help themselves to cash/cigarettes – has for some time been an issue across New Zealand, and particularly the Auckland region (see, Tim Walker’s Thug II, III, IV, and V) yet inexplicably, it is not an issue that appears to have ever been properly addressed.

…Last month multiple attacks were carried out on Auckland dairies, with several more in the month before that, but with the severity of a number of these attacks resulting in the hospitalisation of the shop’s proprietor or other on-duty staff member…

It’s the ACT party who have finally stood up and demanded an end to this ridiculous run of lawlessness; they want part of the Government’s allocation of tobacco tax to be used in helping those people who, despite providing such a fine service for our communities, are being abused by select groups in those same communities.

…Either the New Zealand Police Force don’t consider the security of our humble dairy owners a priority or – perhaps the feeling is that the juvenile street thugs who are being talked into perpetrating these acts (often gang prospects acting under instruction from older gang members) just aren’t worth their time because Police have so many more important crimes to manage such as busting otherwise good folk for smoking weed – there is simply too little policing available to make any kind of notable difference to this cause…

ACT maintain that some of New Zealand’s tobacco tax revenue should be used to fund additional policing around these problem areas, and/or go towards implementation of the self-service cigarette machines historically used in pubs and bars, which would certainly remove a good deal of the onus from, thus making life a lot less dangerous for, these mortally endangered shop keepers.

…Given that dairy owners are effectively risking their lives to sell goods that ultimately – after subtracting the wholesale cost of the product then taking away the percentage of what’s left that must go into lining the Government’s pocket – earns the aforementioned retailer a decidedly miniscule profit, the New Zealand Government must surely feel some responsibility towards ensuring the safety of their tobacco vendors…

In under a decade the cost of a pack of cigarettes has more than doubled (in taxation) while the number of Kiwi smokers has reduced by less than 10 percent therefore, given that in 2012 smokers paid the Government $1 billion in taxes while costing the Government $1.1 billion in healthcare (see, Tim Walker and the Future of Smoking), by 2017, obviously our Government is taking a hefty profit.

…Regarding the comparison of ‘danger incurred’ against ‘profits gained’, for a family man hoping to see his kids grow up in Auckland, such is the lack of incentive to even sell cigarettes anymore that a number of Auckland dairies are now boasting signage, ‘Cigarettes Are Not Sold Here’, in the hope that by removing themselves from the cigarette trade they might avoid the related scourge of these Devil Sticks…

The New Zealand Government has for years effectively been using service stations and dairies in order to reap massive gains in tobacco tax; surely then that Government is implicitly obligated to provide protection to those who deal in this product, on their behalf..?

…It’s a fact that alcohol ultimately costs the nation (see, Tim Walker’s Smoke IV), as it seems that alcohol duty has always been insufficient to cover the exponentially increased cost of special event, and general weekend nightlife, policing, also the ACC cost stemming from alcohol-induced violence (that’s street and domestic), as well as the crime that booze inspires, and that’s without even touching on the healthcare side of it (liver disease etc); yet smokers have only ever had their various ‘related illnesses’ and the Government has always made damn sure that they have covered themselves financially for that aspect, thus to the point: assuredly, there is tobacco-related money in the Government stash for additional security outside dairies…

As a country are we honestly prepared to stand by while this kind of, supposedly petty, offending continues to take place right in front of our faces; do we seriously find it acceptable that peoples’ livelihoods, these people’s lives, are being ravaged and destroyed by shitheaded gangs of delinquent thugs?

…Perhaps more to the point though, do we actually not care about the wellbeing of one of our country’s most valuable resources – New Zealand’s vast populous of working migrants – do we truly have so little respect for these fine men and women?

The ACT party cares; they are determined to do what it takes to tap into this Government cache of tobacco tax for the safety, for the protection and for the wellbeing of New Zealand’s Indian dairy owners.




Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Indie Anne Wurka

Photography by D Savra Spect

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