Government wording of when the European Union Tobacco Products Directive on plain packaging would come into effect has left retailers wondering whether it is still legal to sell non-compliant packs on May 20th.
The confusing instructions in the government’s advice for retailers on the sale of e-cigarettes states, “you may only sell the product until 19 May 2017,” but the same page also states that non-compliant lines should be removed the following day.
Another government guidance document from the Department of Health states a different date, “From 21 May 2017: all relevant products which are to be sold or supplied in the UK market must be in the the new TPD and standardised packaging.”
One retailer who thought the tobacco deadline meant the changeover should occur after the shop closes on May 20 told Retail Express that they’d been told by a JTI rep to remove stock the night before.
So what is the answer?
Regardless of the government’s confusion, industry bodies are in consensus that no non-compliant tobacco products should be displayed or sold on May 20 or beyond, meaning retailers should be removing all non-compliant lines after they close on May 19.
One industry expert said “Even though the government guidance is conflicting, the law is clear that only TPD compliant tobacco products should be sold from one minute past midnight on May 20. With instances like this, retailers should always err on the side of caution.”
The video below, courtesy of poplaonline.com, shows the confusion that both retailers and their customers are facing from the EUTPD 2 regulations.