Coles Express receives $107,000 fine for cigarette advertising

Posted by James Ferre on 13th August 2009

A Supreme Court decision has found the owner of 26 Coles Express stores guilty of breaching tobacco advertising prohibitions within the NSW Public Health Act.

The Chief Health Officer in NSW, Dr Kerry Chant, said NSW Health had prosecuted the retail chain giant for instructing its employees to verbally encourage customers to purchase tobacco products. When a customer requested a single packet of cigarettes, Coles Express employees were reportedly instructed to inform the customer that they could buy a second packet at a reduced rate.

In court, Justice Bruce James recognised that Eureka Operations, which operates as Coles Express, foresaw a substantial financial benefit to itself by pursuing this course of action. Justice James found Eureka Operations guilty of charges in relation to 26 offences from its stores across the state.

He ordered Eureka Operations to pay $107,000 plus NSW Health’s costs of $50,000.

“Verbal tobacco advertisements are banned in NSW under the Public Health Act,” Dr Chant advised. “Smoking is the single greatest cause of premature death in NSW, as well as the leading cause in preventable disease.”

“As the use of tobacco products leads to addiction, disease and premature death, the sale, advertising and display of these products needs to be carefully regulated.”

“We welcome Eureka’s expression of genuine regret for its actions.”Coles Express is the convenience store operation of Coles and the Justice acknowledged when handing down his verdict that the company had “been a corporate citizen of good character and that it is unlikely to offend again”.