07/04/2009 - 12:10

Tobacco changes threaten Perth business

07/04/2009 - 12:10

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Specialist cigar business, Devlin's Cigar Divan, will be forced to close its Perth and Subiaco stores if an amendment to tobacco laws is passed by parliament.

Tobacco changes threaten Perth business

Specialist cigar business, Devlin's Cigar Divan, will be forced to close its Perth and Subiaco stores if an amendment to tobacco laws is passed by parliament.

Independent MP Janet Wollard is looking to delete a section of the Tobacoo Products Control Act which exempts specialist retailers - which derives more than 80 per cent of income from the sale of tobacco products - from rules banning the display of tobacco products.

"Devlin's is the only retailer in WA that meets this criteria," the business said in a statement.

If the amendment is passed, owner Simon Devlin said he will be forced to close both the Hay St and London Court stores which employ eight people in total.

"The proposed changes would result in Devlin's no longer being able to store cigars in the two stores' walk-in humidors - necessary to keep the product fresh - and would instead have to keep them out of sight in cupboards," Mr Devlin said.

"This would force the closure of the business, as cigars kept in the wrong conditions will not retain flavour and taste and would be un-saleable.

"This issue is not about a right to smoke or the merits of cigars versus cigarettes - for me, it is about my right to a livelihood, to trade a legal product and to keep my business - with its eight employees - viable."

 

 

The announcement is below:

 

The Tobacco Control Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament by Independent MP Janet Wollard will force the closure of a premium specialty cigar retailer employing eight people in two stores in Perth and Subiaco.

Devlin's Cigar Divan is the only small business of its type in Western Australia, offering luxury cigar products from its London Court store and cigars plus other premium brand items such as quality pens, leather goods and men's shirts and ties from its Subiaco store.

Established nine years ago by then 26-year-old Simon Devlin, the business has become a Perth icon, incorporating a member's club that operates regular events and charity dinners - raising $100,000 over the past five years for charities such as Legacy, Toy Box Children's Charity and Barnado's Children's Charity.

The Amendment Bill deletes a crucial section of the original Tobacco Products Control Act that exempts specialist retailers such as premium cigar stores from rules banning the display of tobacco products where more than 80 per cent of the business income is derived from them. Devlin's is the only retailer in WA that meets this criteria.

The proposed changes would result in Devlin's no longer being able to store cigars in the two stores' walk-in humidors - necessary to keep the product fresh - and would instead have to keep them out of sight in cupboards.

This would force the closure of the business, as cigars kept in the wrong conditions will not retain flavour and taste and would be un-saleable. Devlin's does not sell cigarettes.

Mr Devlin said he would be unable to modify his city store, in particular, to comply with the display provisions of the act, because it was entirely devoted to the display and sale of cigars and was a totally humidified environment.

He said the removal of the amendment would have unintended consequences and destroy a business selling a legal product that was targeted - and marketed - at a high-end clientele.

"This issue is not about a right to smoke or the merits of cigars versus cigarettes - for me, it is about my right to a livelihood, to trade a legal product and to keep my business - with its eight employees - viable," Mr Devlin said

"I can't believe that the intention of this Bill is to put specialty retailers out of business. Premium cigars comprise more than 80 per cent of my sales - if this legislation passes, I will no longer be able to store them so they retain freshness, which would make the product un saleable.

"I also need to have the product displayed because unlike a cigarette merchant, who sells to a customer who already knows what they want, a cigar merchant relies on customers being able to browse, examine the products, see what new stock may have come in and choose what they want, much like a fine wine merchant does.

"Just about everywhere in the world, no matter how strict the tobacco control, premium cigar stores are exempt in recognition of the special circumstances facing businesses such as mine. All I am asking is that these special circumstances continue to be recognised in Western Australia."

Mr Devlin said another aspect of the proposed legislation that would damage his business was an amendment to prohibit smoking in any public place where food or drink may be consumed. This would mean that Devlin's private outdoor cigar lounge at the rear of the Subiaco store - where customers may taste their cigar selections - would also be forced to close.

"This legislation is taking things too far. Surely we can have sensible tobacco laws that protect minors in Western Australia without destroying what is a unique Western Australian business," Mr Devlin said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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