Wholesalers must be exempt from legislation to implement a generational smoking ban due to be announced in the King’s Speech on Tuesday (7), according to the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD).
Under the plan, the legal age to buy cigarettes in England would automatically rise by one year every year. It would mean anyone born after January 2009 will never be able to legally buy tobacco.
James Bielby, Chief Executive of FWD, said, “There must be an exemption to allow retailers to purchase tobacco from their wholesalers, whatever their age. There is a precedent for a wholesale exemption on displays and packaging – both of which are permitted in wholesale depots. These successes on tobacco policy, won by FWD, need to be replicated in the legislation.
FWD is also concerned over potential increase in the illicit trade.
“This policy must not lead to an increase in the illicit market controlled by organised crime gangs, hitting our members’ legitimate sales, tax revenues, and driving unregulated youth access to tobacco.”
Restrictions on the purchase of tobacco could lead to increased crimes against wholesalers.
FWD is calling for wholesale to be included in the Crime Bill likely to be laid out in the Speech, with improved police prioritisation of theft and robbery from customers at cash and carry premises, and delivery vehicles in transit.
“Our recent Crime Forum meeting identified an increase in thefts of tobacco from wholesale vehicles in transit, with limited police response. Funding for law enforcement measures in this area must continue. It is vital for the wholesale industry to be considered and represented in these plans to tackle crime. Incorporating wholesale in the Crime Bill will help support both individuals and businesses in the wholesale sector.