Its time for action on the EU tobacco directive because on October 8th 2013 the European Parliament voted on proposals to amend the European Union Tobacco Products Directive. The European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of Ministers are in negotiations as to what the final make-up will look like. Ultimately decide what becomes law for the European Union Tobacco Products Directive.

Colin Wragg, Imperial Tobacco Head of UK Corporate and Legal Affairs said:

“It is absolutely vital that UK retailers are aware of the implications this directive will have on their livelihoods if adopted, not to mention the UK Treasury who could stand to lose over £650 million1 if it is introduced in its current form.

Independent and convenience stores stand to be hit the hardest. Currently 68%2 of tobacco purchasers buy something else in store on the same visit; the European Union Tobacco Products Directive proposals want to ban all cigarettes in packs of less than 20 and roll-your-own tobacco in pouches of less than 20g. If this is passed then incidental purchases will decrease and so too will retailers income.

Currently, one in six corner shops in the UK are at threat of closure due to lost sales from tobacco smuggling and cross border shopping. If the European Union Tobacco Products Directive proposals become law they will act as an open invitation for criminals to peddle more illicit tobacco in the UK. This will further erode retailers income and deprive the Treasury of much needed revenue for public services.

If enforced the landscape will be extremely bleak for UK independent retailers and could result in a dramatic loss of cash flow and fall in their turnover.

So what are the next steps?

The various EU institutions involved with the European Union Tobacco Products Directive will need to reach common ground on the proposals and it is expected that this will be completed by December. The next month will be the last window for retailers to voice their concerns. I urge you to contact your local MP and MEP; if you are unsure of who this is and/or require their contact details go to www.writetothem.com

Source: 1Based on Tobacco Manufacturers Association Smokers’ Panel Poll : 2HIM! Convenience Tracker Programme 2013