A new survey conducted by JTI has found that 86 per cent of convenience retailers believe the government’s proposed generational ban on tobacco products will have a negative impact on their business.
Over two thirds (67 per cent) of the retailers surveyed said that the generational tobacco ban would likely lead to an increase in illicit tobacco activity, with 66 per cent also stating that they believe the government does not have the required funding or resource to police a generational ban.
The survey of 1,000 independent and symbol convenience retailers also found that 62 per cent of them believe that the generational ban will be costly to their business in terms of implementation, with 55 per cent saying it will make ID checks more complicated for their staff and 58 per cent stating it will impact staff training specifically around underage sales.
Atul Sodha, owner of Londis Harefield, Uxbridge, commented: “It’s difficult to see how this proposed tobacco ban would be properly enforced. It’s a deeply impractical law, which means at some point retailers will be expected to distinguish between 36 and 37-year-olds when deciding who to sell tobacco products to. An increase in ID checks will likely slow down transactions in-store which can lead to frustrated customers.”
Tobacco remains an important category to 73 per cent of convenience retailers when it comes to generating footfall in store. In fact, a quarter of stores said that 50 per cent 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.
“The proposed tobacco ban will hit convenience retailers the hardest,” Paul Cheema, owner of Malcolm’s Convenience and Forecourt, Coventry, said.
“We know from recent reports, and our own experiences, 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.”
Nishi Patel, owner of Londis Bexley Park, added: “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.”