Small retailers have been locked out of the Federal Government’s consultations over its plan to limit the sale of vaping products to pharmacies, the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) said today.

AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said the Deputy Secretary of the Department for Health, Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, had referred to a series of consultation events regarding the disastrous plan, but he failed to mention small retailers as one of the participants.

“I am not aware of any retail groups, particularly those representing convenience and other small stores, being involved in these so-called consultations,” Mr Rogut said.

Professor Skerritt told a Senate Committee that around 200 people had attended “a series of webinars” to consider the proposal to force vapers to visit a doctor and obtain a prescription, then buy their products from a pharmacy.

He said the participants include regular vapers, health care professionals and “pharmacist groups such as the pharmacy guild”.

“The group that he didn’t mention is the one that will be hurt the most by this ridiculous proposal,” Mr Rogut said.

“Government officials told the hearing they see vaping as a pathway out of cigarette smoking, and many of our members would support that if they could have access to selling vaping products instead of cigarettes.

“Sadly, they weren’t invited to have their voices heard in this so-called consultation. Retail groups were not among the stakeholders the Department of Health was keen to listen to.

“No doubt selectively choosing the people to participate in your consultation will give you the answers you want, but they really should be listening to everyone who will be affected by this policy.

“They really should be listening to retailers, not shutting them out because they might not like the answers,” Mr Rogut said.

AACS has consistently called on Government to regulate the legal sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to support people looking to quit smoking traditional tobacco by offering them easy access to these products at times convenient to them, through proven responsible retailers.

Mr Rogut said convenience stores are responsible sellers of restricted products like legal tobacco and are more than capable of retailing vaping products in line with proper regulations, such as age limits, quality control standards and tamper-proof packaging.

Further information:                                                                                     

Jeff Rogut                                                                                             

Chief Executive Officer                                                                 

Australasian Association of Convenience Stores                                 

Ph: +61 467 873 789

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