A new survey shows that convenience stores are already feeling the impact of new tobacco legislative measures and have urged the Chancellor to use this week’s Spring Budget to help deal with the impact.

The survey conducted by the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) during the weeks leading up to the Budget on 8th March, found that the major legislative changes around the introduction of plain packaging and the phasing out of small tobacco packs were already having a detrimental impact on small retailers despite not yet being fully in force. Feedback suggested that customers who could no longer purchase their regular smaller packs and who couldn’t afford the larger packs were looking to buy from alternative sources.

Plain or standardised packaging alongside bans on all packs under 30g for hand-rolling tobacco and cigarettes packs contacting less than 20 sticks will be fully in place by the end of May this year.

The survey also confirmed that the vast majority of small retailers thought that taxation on tobacco was too high and, stemming from this issue that a majority of retailers were aware of smuggled or counterfeit tobacco being sold in their area.

The key results found:

• 60% of small retailers said that introduction of plain packaging and the ban on small packs of tobacco were already having a detrimental impact on their business;
• 98% of small retailers felt that tax on tobacco was very high;
• 62% of small retailers were aware that smuggled or counterfeit tobacco was being sold in their local area.
National Spokesman for the TRA, Cllr Suleman Khonat said:

“These results confirm what we have long feared; that the banning of small packs and the introduction of plain packaging is having a detrimental impact on many small retailers. Even with two months to go before full implementation, it is clear that these measures are impacting on legitimate businesses.

“In particular we know that the ban on small packs will impact on footfall and in incidental spend on other items as people no longer come into the shop every day. The feedback from this survey now confirms this.

“Small retailers also believe that tax on tobacco is too high. We know that high tax is leading to the boom in black market tobacco that takes business away from legitimate traders, again as confirmed by this survey, by the high number of retailers who are aware of illicit tobacco being sold in their area.

“Corner shops are the lifeblood of many communities that, in many cases, would not exist if it wasn’t for selling tobacco. It is crucial that the Chancellor recognises this and uses his Budget to help small shops – he could do this by reviewing his current approach to tobacco taxation and by ensuring that there are no new measures or burdens announced next week.”


The TRA conducted a survey of its members between 12th February and 1st March 2017 with a total 53 retailers from across the UK providing responses.

For more information please contact:


Suleman Khonat, National Spokesperson, Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance,


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