7th August, 2014 - The second consultation on tobacco plain packaging closes today. The consultation which looks at the regulations involved in the proposed restrictions, was launched by Health Minister, Jane Ellison.
In her response to the first consultation in the summer of 2012, Jane Ellison demonstrated concern at the impact the introduction of plain packaging would have on retailers.
Today, Suleman Khonat, the National Spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance and a Blackburn shopkeeper commented:
“In her response to the 2012 consultation on plain packaging, Jane Ellison stated that she was ‘conscious that a sudden change in the law could have an impact on smaller businesses, especially in the challenging economic environment we currently face.’ She’s quite right to be concerned. Introducing plain packaging will see an increase in tobacco smuggling, which will mean lost sales for legitimate retailers like me. Smugglers are criminals, so more smuggling means more crime in our communities. They don’t mind who they sell to and will happily sell to the under 18s, the very people plain packaging is supposed to protect.
6th August, 2014 - The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance has received over 3,700 letters and postcards from independent retailers concerned about the effects that plain tobacco packaging would have on their businesses if it was introduced. The letters and postcards will be delivered to the Standardised Packaging Consultation which closes tomorrow. Many thousands more TRA letters and cards are being sent by retailers direct to the Consultation.
Suleman Khonat, National Spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance and a Blackburn shopkeeper, commented:
“In Australia, plain packaging has not reduced tobacco sales. It will boost tobacco smuggling here in the UK which will mean sales lost by legitimate retailers. More tobacco smuggling means those under 18 will have greater access to tobacco than ever as smugglers don’t mind the age of their customers. Smuggling brings criminal activity into our communities and funds organised crime. Where are the positives in this scenario?
“It has been argued that retailers make a smaller profit on tobacco than on soft drinks, but tobacco brings in customers who then buy soft drinks at the same time, amongst other things. Take all that out of our profit equation and many retailers will struggle with retaining staff levels and, in some cases, even staying open.
“Also, many independent retailers are Muslims. The six week consultation ran during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, leaving Muslims only around 10 days free of their Ramadan commitments to be able to respond to the Consultation. Added to that, the Impact Assessment document connected to the Consultation was only available in English. This means those not with English as a first language would struggle to have all the information at their fingertips required to respond fully to the Consultation. This hardly seems inclusive of a key group of stakeholders who - perhaps most of all - will be affected by the restrictions under consideration in the Consultation.”
The TRA's Mahendra Jadeja with just some of the responses from retailers against plain packaging