When the tobacco display ban came into force in 2015, there was an element of a softly, softly approach from trading standards.
There were no big convictions immediately following it.
But with this month’s introduction of the EU Tobacco Products Directive 2 – which bans the sale of 10-packs and rolling tobacco under 30g, as well as branded packs of RYO and cigarettes – several trading standards offices have been clear in their intention to come down hard on offenders.
Retailers that haven’t yet sold through non-compliant stock or removed it from display to swap it for plain packs with tobacco manufacturers face fines, imprisonment or both.
Speaking to retailers that are fully compliant with the new regulations, the concern was that trading standards would get caught up in prosecuting stores and ignore the much bigger problem of the illicit trade.
Law-abiding retailers are easier to target than those selling illicit tobacco, they said. And HMRC’s decision to dismiss claims that plain packaging will boost the tobacco black market does nothing to allay those fears.
So, what can you do about it? Make sure your tobacco range and display is flawless and within the law, report illicit traders to the authorities and Crimestoppers, and keep reading trade press to stay up to date with any further legislation.