The survey of over 200 TRA members from across the UK found that the majority of retailers received no direct communication from national government, responsible for introducing the measures, nor from local government in the form of Trading Standards, responsible for enforcing the measures once they had been introduced.
The key findings:
• 68% of respondents received no engagement from local Trading Standards about the changes
• 70% would have welcomed more information from the Government around the changes
• Only 40% remember receiving government materials dealing with the changes
• 91% received communication from a tobacco manufacturer regarding the changes
The results also highlight significant variations of contact across the UK with retailers in Northern Ireland (51%) and Scotland (37%) more likely to have had contact with their local trading standards than in Wales (4%) and England (17%).
TRA members have long voiced concerns about the impact of these measures as revealed in a survey conducted earlier this year showing that convenience stores were already feeling their impact.
The TRA National Spokesman, Suleman Khonat, said:
“Plain packaging and the small packs ban represented the biggest changes ever in the UK tobacco market and yet the government both nationally and locally clearly did not do enough to assist retailers either understand the nature of the changes or how they could ensure that they were compliant with them.
“Retailers of course want to comply with any laws, however, when the powers that be fail to assist or help, it helps to explain why there were a number of early reports of some retailers still selling old stock.
“There are clear lessons that need to be learnt from these findings particularly for the government when it introduces new legislation. Nationally, it needs to get better at communicating the nature of any changes through targeted information activities aimed directly at retailers. Whilst trading standards also need to step up and again help independent stores understand their obligations on the ground including with more regular engagement and visits.”