The group representing small, independent tobacco retailers have called on the Government to use the opportunity presented by the UK’s departure from the European Union to reverse the latest EU inspired restrictions.
20th May represents a significant milestone for the small and independent retail sector, as the following measures stemming from the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive take effect:
• Full introduction of plain or standardised packaging of cigarette and hand rolling tobacco products;
• Complete ban on all packs under 30g for hand-rolling tobacco and cigarettes packs contacting less than 20 sticks;
• Bans on flavoured tobacco products (menthol ban is due to start in 2020);
• A series of restrictions on e-cigaretttes including around tank size.
Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) members are concerned about the impact of standardised packaging and the ban on smaller packs with a survey conducted earlier this year showed that convenience stores are already feeling the impact of these new legislative measures. 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 non-shop, illegal sources that was impacting on legitimate small independent retailers.
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.
The TRA National Spokesman, Suleman Khonat, said:
“Plain packaging and the small packs ban will be disastrous for small, independent retailers and which our own research confirms is already having an impact. These measures will simply push customers into the black market or into buying tobacco from abroad.
“There is also no evidence to show these measures will actually work as health measures. Plain packaging will simply make it easier to counterfeit whilst it is perverse that by banning small packs the Government is forcing people to smoke more, not less tobacco whilst taking regular trade away from independent stores.
“Given these were measures originated from Europe, we will be campaigning vigorously over the next couple of years for the Government to reverse them as we leave the European Union.”
Notes to editors:
• To read more about the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance position on plain packaging: http://www.tralliance.org.uk/plain-packaging/
• The read more about the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance position on the European Tobacco Products Directive: http://www.tralliance.org.uk/the-european-tobacco-products-directive/
• TRA Survey: http://www.tralliance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/1-Minute-survey_summary-data.pdf