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    Proposed smoking ban will put pressure on retailers: BIRA

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    Retail Association the British Independent Retails Association (Bira) has warned that the Prime Minister’s plan to ban smoking for the younger generation could put extra pressure on shop keepers.

    Rishi Sunak described his plan to phase out the sale of cigarettes as ‘the biggest public health intervention in a generation’ and if it goes ahead, the age people can buy them will be increased by a year each year. It is currently 18 years old.

    However, Bira has said that while they understand the plan, the mechanics of how this would work and how the onus would be put onto retailers selling the product to ‘police’ would have to be better thought out.

    Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said, “Bira acknowledges the recent announcement regarding the smoking ban, and while we understand the intentions behind it, we would like to address the practical implications of this decision from a retailer’s perspective.

    “Placing the responsibility of verifying customers’ ages squarely on shopkeepers could potentially lead to several challenges. In addition to concerns about retail crime and the potential for increased abuse from customers who are reluctant to be IDed, this policy may inadvertently contribute to a rise in shoplifting cases.

    “The idea of eradicating smoking in years to come is laudable and hard to disagree with. All we ask is that the regulations are communicated very clearly and when it is implemented. New regulations can be difficult and costly for retailers, and these rule change will every year. It might be difficult to keep track of the new age limit and so we urge the government to ensure that the relevant age restriction is printed on the packets of cigarette.

    “We are also concerned about the pressures of enforcement being placed on retailers which may well lead to flashpoints of abuse to people who work in the shops – a worrying trend that is already on the rise. In the longer term we will see retailers top-selling cigarettes as demand falls, and there must be concerns that the black market will expand, and may well lead to even more retail crime.

    “We firmly believe that the onus of enforcing smoking regulations should not solely fall on the shoulders of shopkeepers. It is essential to consider additional measures and resources to support retailers in their efforts to comply with these new rules effectively. We call upon the relevant authorities to work closely with retailers to develop a comprehensive strategy that promotes compliance while safeguarding the wellbeing and safety of shopkeepers and their staff. At Bira, we remain committed to supporting independent retailers and championing their concerns.”

    Bira is at the forefront of championing the cause of independent traders and shopkeepers across Britain. With a dedicated focus on revitalising and preserving the high street, we relentlessly campaign on their behalf. Our advocacy takes our collective voice to the halls of Parliament and into discussions with key stakeholders, where we represent the interests of small and independent businesses.

    Our campaigns cover a wide spectrum of issues crucial to the success of independent traders. From combatting the rising tide of retail crime to advocating for changes in legislation that promote fairness and flexibility, we aim to leave no stone unturned. Bira is a staunch advocate for fairer business rates and reducing the regulatory burden that can stifle small businesses’ growth potential. Through our efforts, we strive to ensure that the heartbeat of our communities, the high street, continues to thrive and serve as a vibrant hub for local businesses.

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