Unnecessary red tape on tobacco has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, a Retail Express investi<

/figcaption>gation has revealed.
  • Welsh retailers prepare for another burden with the potential a tobacco register
  • An investigation throws into question the purpose of the Scottish tobacco register
  • Only five irresponsible retailers in five years have been caught 
  • Health minister says she “welcomes retailers efforts”

Following the Welsh Government’s announcement that it plans to introduce a tobacco register to crack down on illicit trading, Retail Express delved into how successful a similar tobacco register has been in Scotland since it was introduced in 2011.

Since its launch, only five irresponsible retailers have been banned from selling tobacco on a temporary basis, but it has cost the taxpayer £449,500 – or £89,900 per offender. And whereas the Scottish register was free for retailers to join, Welsh stores will be hit with a signing up fee of at least £30 – costing the industry a whopping £279,300 when admin fees are also taken into account.

tobacco register The Scottish government claim the register will help cut underage sales

Welsh ministers argue that the register will aid the fight against illicit tobacco and the “continuing problem” of underage sales, but trading standards own figures reveal there has not been an increase in underage sales. According to Government documents, 15% of trading standards underage tests have failed, a figure that has not changed from 2007 to 2013.

The NFRN discussed its fears with the Welsh Assembly last month about unnecessary charging of  shops and falsely targeting responsible retailers. NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “We are concerned that the plans would turn into a cash cow, trapping retailers into paying more and more to be registered to sell tobacco.”

Dee Goberdhan, who runs Albany Road Post Office in Cardiff, said: “The cost is just another added burden that isn’t really going to tackle unsolicited tobacco being sold to minors, because that is all under the radar. We’re paying the price for others’ illegal behaviour.”

tobacco register Public health minister, Maureen Watt MSP, claims it is a success.

But the Maureen Watt MSP, the public health minister who headed up the campaign claims it’s a success. She said: “We recognise that the vast majority of retailers comply with tobacco sales legislation and welcome their efforts.  We also recognise the hard work of trading standards officers who provide advice and guidance to businesses and take enforcement action where necessary before reaching the point of needing to consider a banning order.”