I’m a member of the Tobacco Retailer Alliance and last month we had an incredibly productive meeting with major tobacco suppliers.
Normally we only hold closed meetings, but last month we decided to open up in order to discuss illicit tobacco and the best way to tackle the increase.
It was more of a roundtable discussion than a lecture so we could all share ideas and discuss our issues from each angle. We really did assess everything from plain packaging, smuggling, PMPs and how we will take this forward once all of the new legislation has come into force.
I’d like us to work closely with trading standards and to engage with them more. Of course, ASH and the department of health already work closely with them, so it makes it hard for associations like us to build a relationship.
The best way we can is to work with publications, like Retail Express on Smoke Them Out, or manufacturers and their campaigns so we can hand over our stories in the most effective manner.
As bad as things are now, it is only going to get worse and it will take some time to stop it. We thought the fight was over when the plain packaging law passed, but we were wrong.
Illicit tobacco isn’t a new issue, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. The fight isn’t over, it’s only just begun.