Retailers have advised other stores to delist menthol tobacco lines from suppliers that failed to outline plans to take back non-compliant stock after 20 May.

After this date, it will be illegal to sell menthol tobacco or non-track and trace (T&T) packs. When asked by betterRetailing, JTI and Philip Morris (PML) outlined their non-compliant stock returns policies.

Oppositely, with less than one month until the ban, both Imperial and BAT refused to share take-back terms for stores. BAT said it was “at the forefront of helping our trade partners”, but refused to confirm any plans to take back menthol or non-T&T stock. Imperial said surplus retailer stock “will be dealt with on an individual basis”. 

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Several store owners confirmed Imperial had privately promised stock swapping, while others claimed Imperial failed to answer when asked about stock swaps.

NFRN Scottish district president Ferhan Ashiq said: “If suppliers are evasive in their answers, retailers should stop purchasing their menthol lines up to one week before the ban.” 

Hardik Patel, owner of Thorougoods in Staffordshire, confirmed he removed Imperial’s menthol products after it failed to commit to swapping stock.

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Arif Ahmed, owner of Ahmed’s News in Coventry, warned that non-T&T stock was still available in wholesale. Commenting on BAT and Imperial’s stance, Ahmed said: “It makes me wonder whether they hope they can turn a blind eye while shops continue to sell through after the ban. Without rep visits, manufacturers should be clear and upfront about what they are offering.”

JTI reminded stores to rotate and sell through non-T&T compliant stock ahead of the deadline. It said rep visits to swap stock post-ban would occur “as soon as it is safe to do so”. 

While PML will buy back rather than swap stock, it advised stores to invest in its new Iqos Menthol kits.

*confirmed by retailers, manufacturer refused to say

Click here to read each supplier’s full response

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