Most of us didn’t stumble as we negotiated our way through the raft of changes being imposed on tobacco sales.
A product that no one can deny is harmful to public health. However, the last time I checked, it was still legal to buy by consenting adults.
The Government, trading standards and health lobbies seem to have got legitimate retailers mixed up with those on the streets that peddle cigarettes to children and don’t think twice about supporting organised crime by selling illegal tobacco.
It seems that by introducing a mind-boggling array of changes to the sale of tobacco has, in fact, made it harder for honest retailers to legally make a living and much easier for smugglers and street sellers to make a killing! The Tobacco Retailers Alliance released figures last month informing us that 57% of retailers were aware of illegal tobacco being sold in their area and a shocking 13% are considering closure as a direct result of the devastating effects tobacco smuggling is having on their business.
The high taxes inflicted on tobacco sales in the UK are also battering weary retailers, making it more and more appealing for customers returning from their holidays in Europe to bring as much tobacco back as they can legally carry. Other customers are choosing to buy tobacco from the internet and from friends to avoid the high taxes imposed by the Government.
The Government now seem to have had their attention drawn to some new culprits on our shelves. Products that can cause harm to public health but that can be bought and consumed by children and adults alike. Sugar. While I appreciate the chaos tobacco legislation has brought on our industry, it’s surely nothing compared to the crippling effect the “sugar tax” will bring to retailers.
I will watch with interest the developing debate on whether or not to tax our Mars Bars, Coca-Cola and doughnuts. Sadly, it’s another category under the scrutiny of the Government and health lobbies, who constantly move the goal posts to reflect a little glow of light on themselves by making us healthier, better people. Whether we want it or not.