Call for protection for retailers when enforcing potential smoking ban

Call for protection for retailers when enforcing potential smoking ban
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Fri 19th Apr 2024

The government has been urged to put a plan in place to protect shopkeepers when it comes to enforcing a potential new ban on purchasing cigarettes by younger people.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill passed a vote by 383 to 67 in the House of Commons on Wednesday. If it becomes law, the legal age for buying cigarettes would increase by one year each year meaning that anyone born after 1 January 2009 will never be able to legally purchase cigarettes.

Retailers in England and Wales who sell tobacco and vapes to underage customers would be hit by new £100 on the spot fines. This is on top of the £2,500 penalties that courts are already able to impose.

The law would also allow the government to restrict flavours of vapes and regulate the way they are sold and packaged with the aim of making them less appealing to children.

Victoria Atkins, health and social care secretary, said:

"Too many people know someone whose life has been tragically cut short or irreversibly changed because of smoking, which despite significant progress remains the UK's biggest preventable killer.

"The truth is that there is no safe level of tobacco consumption. It is uniquely harmful and that is why we are taking this important action today to protect the next generation.

"This bill will save thousands of lives, ease the strain on our NHS and improve the UK's productivity."

Call to safeguard retailers for enforcing smoking ban

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) warned that the plan to ban smoking for the younger generation could put extra pressure on shopkeepers.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, said:

"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 when they are implemented. New regulations can be difficult and costly for retailers, and these rules will change 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 cigarettes. 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."

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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