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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.”

SGF Welcome Government Re-think on Alcohol Plans

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government that measures to tackle alcohol misuse will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament later this year in a new Health Bill.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the SGF said;

“SGF welcomes the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce these measures as a new separate bill. It is only right and proper that such significant changes in policy which will have huge implications for businesses and consumers are properly scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament.

“Scotland does have a challenging relationship with alcohol. If the Government is truly serious about changing this culture they must accept the importance of public and parliamentary debate in this process.”

Scottish Grocers Support Bag Re-Use Campaign

Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) members are supporting the Scottish Government’s campaign to help Scottish consumers and retailers cut their use of carrier bags.

Research shows that 92% of people think reusing carrier bags is good for the environment but that 59% forget their reusable bags and have to take new ones at the checkout.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said:

“We are very pleased to be working with the Scottish Government on this initiative to reduce the number of carrier bags handed out to customers.

“SGF recognizes the symbolic nature of carrier bags in relation to the environment and the Scottish Government’s desire to reduce their usage. We welcome the preferred use of a voluntary initiative to reduce bag usage.

“It’s often very difficult for convenience stores because there is a difference in bag use between weekly planned shops and more spontaneous visits to shops where customers are less likely to take their own bags. However, retailers are making determined efforts to encourage customers to change their habits, to use durable bags for sustained use on an on-going basis.”

For advice on bags and leading a greener lifestyle go to

Alcohol Framework Devastating for Small Retailers

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has reacted with dismay to measures unveiled today in the Scottish Government’s Alcohol Framework. SGF are concerned many of the proposals, primarily targeted at off sales, will have devastating consequences on the ability of small shops to compete with supermarkets and could ultimately result in their closure.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF, said;

“SGF is concerned the Government’s framework introduces a number of proposals which will be discriminatory and harmful to the off licence industry and particularly small shops whilst providing no overall strategy to reduce alcohol harm effectively.”

Increase the minimum age to purchase alcohol in off sales to 21 –

“Despite widespread opposition and ridicule to the proposal to increase the minimum age to purchase alcohol in off sales to 21, the Scottish Government intends to give local licensing boards the power to consider raising the minimum age.

“SGF believe this is wrong. The proposal would establish ridiculous anomalies between on and off-sales and will penalise and inconvenience in communities across the country, the majority of under 21’s who drink responsibly.

“It is disappointing the Scottish Government has resorted to the use of a gimmick which will have little effect on the problem of underage drinking, rather than looking at sensible measures including better enforcement of current legislation, use of proof of age schemes and greater support for a nationally recognised proof of age card.”

Promotions and Marketing

“Banning promotions will appear particularly draconian for consumers feeling the effects of an economic slowdown. SGF are concerned measures to limit promotions and marketing of these promotions, intended to curb the activities of the large supermarkets, will have harmful consequences for small retailers across Scotland already reeling from increased licence fees. Many small retailers, unable to compete with supermarkets on price, add value through promotions.

Social Responsibility Fee

“Proposals to introduce a social responsibility fee are punitive and unfair. Applying a new tax to community store retailers during an economic slowdown will undoubtedly result in the closure of small shops.”

Mr Drummond concluded, “SGF are concerned many of the proposals, which could have devastating consequences for small shops, will not receive the level of scrutiny and debate they require if some of the proposals, as suggested in the framework, are introduced as secondary legislation.

“If we want to change Scotland’s complex relationship with alcohol we all have a part to play, however, Scottish Government proposals which place sanctions against retailers without addressing the deep rooted social problems which create many of the alcohol problems in Scotland, are unlikely to succeed.”

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