Cigarettes easier to buy than bread

Tobacco sellers should be licensed like bottle shops to reduce the number of shops offering cigarettes and make it easier for people to quit smoking, the state government will be told today.

A study by the Cancer Council’s Newcastle-based research centre, found nine out of 10 smokers were snared by ‘‘tobacco traps’’, cigarette outlets on almost every street corner.

Smokers said the temptation stopped them from quitting, with almost a third signalling they would flick the addiction or at least cut down if cigarettes were less available.

In the Hunter more than 1200 outlets sell cigarettes, the equivalent of one shop for every 77 smokers.

‘‘There are more places to buy cigarettes than there are to buy a loaf of bread,’’ the Cancer Council’s Anita Tang said.

The government should limit sellers by introducing a licensing system for cigarettes similar to that used for alcohol, she said.

‘‘There is no safe use of cigarettes and no beneficial purpose – they are a prime product for licensing."

Tobacco traps make it harder to quit

‘‘It shouldn’t be a right to sell tobacco,’’ she said.

Maitland woman Brooke King said she would quit smoking if cigarettes were not so accessible at supermarkets, service stations, newsagents and convenience stores.

Her local supermarket, that sells tobacco products, is just two minutes in the car.

Flooding the market is a well-known marketing technique, said Suzan Burton, a professor of marketing at the University of Western Sydney.

‘‘Coca-Cola were really the first one to do it. Their strategy was that you can’t be more than 100 yards away from a Coca-Cola if you want one,’’ Professor Burton said.

Phillip Kaloudis, 48, is on his third attempt to quit smoking in 10 years. Both previous attempts ended with him buying cigarettes on impulse at the pub.

‘‘You go out with your mates and they are smoking and there’s all this ritual about it,’’ he said.

‘‘I keep away from cigarettes now because it’s a temptation. When they brought in the law that stopped smoking in indoor places it was great for me.’’

But Denise Jeffery, 59, of Largs, a smoker since the age of 13, thinks price is more important.

‘‘If you’re a down and out smoker you’ll find a cigarette anywhere. I don’t think accessibility has a lot to do with it.

‘‘The price factor of $20.50 is the big thing for me. I’m seeing the doctor next week to get tablets to give up,’’ she said.

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