JTI has revealed that 86% of the 1,000 convenience store retailers surveyed believe that the government’s proposed generational ban on tobacco products will negatively affect the sector.
In addition, more than two thirds (67%) of the retailers surveyed said that the generational tobacco ban would likely lead to an increase in illicit tobacco activity, while 66% also stating that they believe the government does not have the required funding or resource to police a generational ban.
Nishi Patel, Owner of Londis Bexley Park, said: “We’re already battling a growing illicit tobacco problem across the country, and I have no doubt that this ban would simply hand more of the UK tobacco market into the hands of criminals.
“Smuggled tobacco already costs law-abiding retailers thousands of pounds as smokers switch to cheaper, un-taxed and un-regulated illegal products. The police and Trading Standards would need significant additional support to ensure both the ban is enforced and to keep a lid on illicit trade.”
The survey also found that 62% of retailers believe that the generational ban will be costly to implement, and 55% saying it will make ID checks more complicated for their staff.
More than half (58%) said that it will impact staff training specifically around underage sales.
Paul Cheema, owner of Malcolm’s Convenience and Forecourt, Coventry, said: “We know that violence or abuse towards shopkeepers is on the rise, with ID checks or refusal of sale often a common cause of this. It’s fair to say that the proposed ban would highly likely exacerbate this issue and drive a further increase in threatening behaviour against retailers.”
A quarter of stores said that 50% or more of their total revenue is from customers who purchase tobacco and other non-tobacco related items in the same basket.
When asked about potential alternatives to the ban, ‘many’ respondents said the tobacco age limit could be raised to 21, whilst others stated that consumers should be left to make their own choice when it comes to purchasing tobacco. Some retailers reiterated that tobacco laws should be left as they are, because of the negative impacts the ban would have on the convenience retail sector.
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