Omapere business thrives after bold decision to quit smokes

By Dean Nathan

The proprietors of the Omapere Gas Station in Hokianga say business has never been better since they made the decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco six months ago.

Joe Taurima says, "We’re coping well business wise. We've actually been hitting record figures for the last 3 months.  I think that there’s not many other places you can go to around here for petrol but it just goes to prove you can make money without smokes."

Taurima supports Tariana Turia’s call for stores nationwide to stop selling tobacco and cigarettes because they've become an attractive commodity for burglars and armed hold ups. "It’s dangerous!  The last straw for us was we got in one day and a couple of stores down the road had been broken into for smokes and our windows were open so they'd tried us as well and that was it. We decided there’s no point."

Customer Vicky Stretch was also supportive of the call. "Why would you carry them when they're worth thousands of dollars and risk your livelihood and even yourself?"

While Taurima acknowledges that circumstances for business owners in the regions can be very different to those in the cities in close proximity to competing stores, he recommends his stand on the sale of tobacco to other business owners.

"Definitely the main reason we got rid of them was because Hokianga is predominantly Māori and we just didn't want to be part of a business where we sold cigarettes to our people. We just don't want to be part of it.  We've added on a café, you know, bring some healthier options."

Despite the upturn in business Taurima is awaiting winter and the difficult time of the business year, but says he will retain his stance.