The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the launch of a joint initiative between the Scottish Government, trading standards officers and HMRC to tackle illegal and illicit sales of tobacco but warns it will be ineffective if focused solely on detecting the sale of illegal tobacco products in retail outlets.
SGF Chief Executive, John Drummond, said;
“There is a growing demand for smuggled imports of tobacco throughout the UK, with approximately 27% of cigarettes and 68% of roll your own tobacco purchased on the black market. SGF has been asking the Government for some time to develop a strategy, supported with adequate resources, to focus on the illegal trade in tobacco.
“Stemming the flow of illegal tobacco throughout communities is vital. A campaign which focuses solely on retail outlets is an easy way out and will not work. To be effective the initiative must focus on a sufficiently resourced street level enforcement campaign.
“Real measures to address the multi-billion black market in tobacco and adults who provide tobacco to under-18s can make a difference to reducing youth smoking. These are the interventions the Scottish Government should be supporting rather than tobacco display ban gimmicks.
“Only this week the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Kay, decided not to proceed with a tobacco display ban citing the lack of international evidence that a ban reduces youth smoking and the expense as the main reasons for reversing proposals for the ban.
“SGF has made these points repeatedly to the Scottish Government and we hope they will now review their proposals as a matter of urgency. This issue will be discussed at our Annual Conference to be held this weekend at the Fairmont Hotel, St Andrews. Over 300 delegates are expected to attend the conference made up of convenience store retailers and suppliers.”