The tobacco industry has changed rapidly over the past 10 years, and the introduction of the menthol ban will shift it once more. In 2020, the ban, which includes dual cigarettes, will come into force. 

To protect profits and drive sales with vaping, retailers need to ensure they remain compliant to avoid prosecution while also merchandising their range effectively.

Despite the upcoming ban, some retailers don’t seem too concerned about sales declining. Bruce Morgan, from Brownlies Best-one in Scotland, believes menthol smokers will transition to full-strength cigarettes, or vaping. “The ban is something that will affect our customers, but they’ll find another solution, whether it’s switching to next-gen or roll-your-own tobacco – it won’t stop shoppers smoking,” he says. 

The ban will come into effect from May 2020, and retailers will only be able to stock smoking accessories, like menthol tips. Harj Gill, owner of The Windmill Select & Save in Birmingham, says the menthol ban will have a big effect on his tobacco sales. “Menthol cigarettes are a huge part of our sales, but I think they’ll switch to roll-your-own tobacco as menthol tips will still be available.” 

Retailers should maintain availability and range at all times, including vapes, to ensure they are a destination of choice. Mark Yexley, JTI’s head of communications, says: “Research has shown that almost a third of existing adult smokers choose to buy elsewhere if their brand is unavailable. Therefore, it’s vital retailers maintain full availability and range.” 


Vaping sales surpassed £1bn in the UK in 2018, despite only being introduced for consumer use 10 years ago. Forty-five per cent of next-gen products are sold through the convenience channel, and it’s a vital category to get right.

To maximise sales, retailers should be knowledgeable about tobacco and vaping, monitor their EPoS data and stock the bestsellers for their area. 

“Closed pod systems now account for almost 20% of the total vaping market in traditional retail and continue to be the driving force behind the category, with over 12% like-for-like sales growth in the past month,” says John Patterson, sales director for Juul Labs.

With open system sales falling in June, Patterson says that at least 20% of a retailer’s vape fixture should go to closed pod systems to match the trend.

What are the vaping product restrictions?

Any e-liquid container must be no more than 10ml in capacity
– Clearomisers and cartridges cannot have a capacity of more than 2ml
– The maximum nicotine strength of e-liquid is currently set at 20% – it was previously 24%
– E-cigarette manufacturers have to submit all product information to the government for approval, before it can be sold to the public
– There is a six-month grace period before any submitted product can be sold 

Brownlies Best-one, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

What do you stock?
With our tobacco range, we stock products from all the leading manufacturers, such as Benson & Hedges. In regard to vaping, we stock major brands, which are very popular with our customers.

How is track and trace for you?
It was a bit difficult getting the IDs and although we had some support from tobacco companies and our wholesaler, the process could have been made easier. The stock for us hasn’t come through yet. 

Have you noticed a rise in next-gen products since legislation changes?
Vaping went from nothing to every retailer now stocking vaping products, so it’s been interesting for us to watch the trend go from strength to strength. On the other hand, tobacco is still selling better for the moment. 

Anita Nye
Premier Eldred Drive Stores,
Orpington, Kent

What do you stock?
We removed our gantry and expanded on vaping. We haven’t lost any of our tobacco range. With next-gen products, we received a lot of advice and now stock well-known brands, such as Logic and Blu.  

How is track and trace for you?
We’ve had a few issues with the ID, but Booker has been a massive help. It’s been difficult getting the second ID and we don’t have track-and-trace stock in our local wholesaler yet. 

Have you a noticed a rise in next-gen products since legislation changes?
The demand for next-gen products hasn’t made a huge impact, although our tobacco sales have decreased a little. We’ve found our customers will smoke if they want to, but some shoppers are switching because they can’t afford to smoke. 

Harj Gill
The Windmill Select & Save, Birmingham

What do you stock?
I stock products my customers expect. Vaping products are different with each store, but we are looking to expand our range. I talk to other retailers to find out about which products to stock and delist. 

How is track and trace for you?
Our tobacco range is still the same as before, but Bestway is implementing track-and-trace stock this month. Getting our two IDs was quite difficult, and they arrived about six weeks after we initially applied.  

Have you a noticed a rise in next-gen products since legislation changes?
Vape sales are increasing every year, but I don’t think the level of tobacco sales will disappear. I believe the menthol ban will push the increase of vaping sales, but nowhere near tobacco sales – which will keep growing.