Cigarette dispenser an ad in itself

In having a cigarette machine, it seems FairPrice is disingenuous in fulfilling the letter of the law but not the spirit, and dressing it up as a productivity improvement ("Tobacco display ban: FairPrice pilots opaque dispenser"; March 17).

The mere presence of these prominent dispenser machines, sans branding notwithstanding, reminds people of cigarette availability. After all, advertising is, in essence, association, implication and conditioning.

Under Article 13 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, it is recommended that vending machines be banned "because they constitute, by their very presence, a means of advertising and promotion".

FairPrice says that it "supports the Government's efforts in protecting the health of Singaporeans". If this is so, the proper thing to do would be to stop selling cigarettes at all FairPrice outlets and convenience stores, like what the CVS drugstore chain in the United States did in 2014 ("US chain to end tobacco sale"; Feb 6, 2014).

Unfortunately, FairPrice's latest venture suggests that it has no intention of giving up this easy money-spinner, which runs counter to its corporate philosophy of doing good for the community.

FairPrice should adhere to WHO guidelines by not using tobacco vending machines and scale down tobacco sales.

Liu I-Chun (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Cigarette dispenser an ad in itself'. Print Edition | Subscribe