People use post cyclone food vouchers to get cigarettes
THOUSANDS were left without power when Cyclone Marcia tore through Central Queensland.
As the clean-up got underway, people queued for hours at community centres for Red Cross food vouchers to help them restock their empty fridges.
But for some, it appears food wasn't the first thing on their minds.
Two Rockhampton supermarkets yesterday confirmed they had several people throughout the week asking to exchange their food vouchers for cigarettes.
Both supermarkets said these requests were declined.
The issue sparked outrage on The Morning Bulletin's Facebook page when we asked readers what they thought, with 140 comments in two hours.
Kevin Keeffe, Executive Director of the Australian Red Cross, said the organisation had sourced vouchers from Coles, Woolworths and IGA stores which had some restrictions on alcohol.
He said while some cards did not have restrictions on buying cigarettes, the Red Cross would support a move from stores to limit the vouchers to food and grocery items only.
"The food vouchers are particularly intended to apply to food, groceries, nappies and essentials like that," Mr Keeffe said.
"Where a store makes a local or company decision, that's consistent with what Red Cross and the government intended for those cards."
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said the vouchers were only intended to buy food, but the issue of smoking addictions was part of a broader problem.
"As a government we need to be working hard to make sure people have good health, are empowered to quit and have the tools and advice out there to be able to help themselves," she said.
"But Immediate Hardship Assistance and other assistance provided by the state ... is for people who are in need of food, not cigarettes."
Vouchers can be used to buy
Other basic essential grocery items