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Scottish Grocers’ Call for Tougher Action Against Black Market Tobacco

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has called on the Scottish Parliament not to proceed with plans to ban the display of tobacco as proposed in the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill.

In its submission to the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, SGF suggests rather than applying sanctions to retailers to reduce youth smoking the focus should be on taking action in the areas more likely to have an impact on youth smoking – tackling the shocking level of tobacco available on the black market and make it an offence for adults to provide tobacco to under-18s.

SGF Chief Executive John Drummond said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s aim to reduce the level of smoking in Scotland; however, a tobacco display ban will burden a typical convenience store with additional costs of between £5,000 and £10,000, despite there being no proven evidence that a ban would have the desired effect on smoking levels in the Scotland.

“SGF is concerned a ban is more likely to increase young people’s fascination in tobacco and could encourage smokers, who do not see tobacco on display in legitimate stores, to buy from rogue traders who are prepared to sell illicit products.”

“The measures in the Bill do not go far enough to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco. Currently 1 in 5 cigarettes smoked in the UK is bought from the black market. The lack of resources to be dedicated to apprehending the “white van man” will result in this remaining a large and under enforced route by which young people can access tobacco.

“Adults who buy tobacco on behalf of an under 18 do so knowing that the person they are buying for is underage. Government figures reveal proxy purchasing is a major route to market for many underage smokers. As it stands nothing is being done about it – yet it is immoral and should be illegal.”