Public Health South smoke-free officers started conducting checks at tobacco retailers yesterday, "but, we'll be working with retailers to concentrate more on education than enforcement at this stage", a Public Health South spokesman said.
The Smoke-free Environments Act, prohibiting the display or advertising of tobacco products, came into effect yesterday and retailers who fail to meet the requirements of the Act risk prosecution and a fine of up to $10,000.
Of tobacco retailers visited by the Otago Daily Times yesterday, only Andy's Milk Bar in Mosgiel still displayed tobacco signs.
Owner Alice Luo said a signwriter had been contacted about amending the sign.
However, Grocery King owner Graham Murphie, who operates tobacco outlets in Hillside Rd and Gordon Rd, said the legislation would not impact on tobacco sales.
"People are cutting down, but cessation is not taking place. We're down to the hard-core smokers now.
"Most of them have already tried to quit and failed. They just can't do it."
"It's going to mean the end of the corner dairy. About 30% of the profit from a corner dairy comes from tobacco."
However, the new legislation also received support from some unlikely quarters yesterday.
Brothers Bob and Peter Wilkinson, of Dunedin, started smoking 50 years ago when they were at school and agreed it was time to ban tobacco advertising.
"I think it's fair enough. There's no need to advertise it.
"I reckon I would never have started without advertising," Peter (63) said.
"Every time you saw a film star, he had a smoke in his mouth. That was even more influential to us than advertising."
"Smoking is definitely a limited thing," Bob (56) agreed. "But I think people our age should be able to get it on prescription, so the kids can't get their hands on it."