Scandinavian Tobacco Group UK Limited (STG UK) is set to reinvigorate the small cigar segment with its latest new product launch, Moments Panatella. As the tobacco category braces itself for the impact of EUTPD 2, the company says the new launch will provide retailers with a visible value alternative that will attract existing smokers to their stores.
As you'll all be aware, it's all change again in the tobacco category as more legislation from EUTPDII and the UK government comes into play. Basically that means that from May 20, you are no longer allowed to sell branded packs of cigarettes or tobacco, or price-marked packs, or the smallest packs think 10 cigarettes and 12.5g of tobacco.
It's all change in the vaping market as the EUTPD II regulations come into force, meaning only compliant stock can be sold from May 20 onwards. Although this places a burden on forecourt retailers to ensure the products they sell are compliant, the regulations also bring an opportunity, as experts believe the market will change considerably. It's likely there will be fewer products available, as smaller companies cannot afford the investment needed to ensure compliance. This in turn could lead to many vape shops closing and consumers having to get their products elsewhere.
Are you confident that you and your staff know enough about the changes in the tobacco market to communicate them to any smokers who might ask about them?
Last year was a momentous one for the tobacco retail trade as all stores went 'dark' and products were hidden away behind closed doors. This year we are expecting the implementation of the European Union Tobacco Products Directive II (EUTPD II) and with it more draconian changes, not least of all the prospect of plain packaging.
The last time Forecourt Trader ran an in-depth piece on e-cigarettes just a few months ago an expert independent review had concluded that e-cigs were less harmful than tobacco. As this article was being written, scientists had said e-cigs may be no better than their tobacco counterparts. However, their tests were in labs and the scientists said the results might not be the same in real people. The 'are they or aren't they harmful?' argument will likely run for years, but in the meantime tobacco smokers who want to give up the hard stuff continue to turn to e-cigs.
The e-cig industry must have been collectively jumping for joy last month after an expert independent review concluded that e-cigs were around 95% less harmful than tobacco and had the potential to help smokers quit.
The tobacco gantry at Askern Service Station in Doncaster 'went dark' at the end of February, well ahead of the official start date of April 6. Site manager, Richard Nixon, says everyone was well prepared. "Staff were well briefed so they knew all about the legislation and could tell customers if they asked about it," he explains, "but to be fair, 90% of our customers had seen the changes in the supermarkets so we didn't get a lot of resistance.
In just two months, the way tobacco is sold across the UK will change forever with all displays going dark or 'behind closed doors'.
You know the e-cigarette industry's really come of age when the traditional tobacco companies get busy acquiring e-cig firms. So you have JTI with Zandera, which is responsible for E-Lites; Philip Morris International with Nicocigs, the firm behind Nicolites; and BAT with Nicoventures which produces Vype.
This year is going to be a busy one for the tobacco category as it's the manufacturers' last chance to launch new lines before the full display ban in April 2015.
April 6, 2015, is D-day for small stores selling tobacco products. From that day on displays have to be covered up, behind doors or shutters. Gayatri Barua-Howe, UK communications manager at Imperial Tobacco, says that while it is each retailer's personal responsibility to ensure that they comply with the display restrictions requirements, her firm is currently looking at a number of different scenarios to help retailers plan for these changes and to ensure compliance. "We will be discussing these in more detail over the coming months," she adds.
The risks involved in selling illicit cigarettes have risen substantially as, for the first time ever in the UK, a retailer has been found guilty of intentionally selling dangerous cigarettes. Until now, any UK retailer caught selling "cheap whites" has been prosecuted for tax evasion, but Shapoor Atiqi from Boston Food and Wine Centre in Lincolnshire, has been found guilty of eight offences, including the sale of non self-extinguishing cigarettes. He was sentenced to 270 hours of community work and fined more than £5,000.
The tobacco display ban, which was implemented in larger stores (3,000sq ft-plus) last April, is also now in place in Northern Ireland and Wales, with Scotland set to follow suit this April. Lessons learned from these bigger stores will no doubt help retailers with smaller stores, when they have to implement the ban in 2015.
April 6 has been and gone and with it went traditional tobacco displays in stores of 3,000sq ft and above. Instead shoppers in the grocery multiples and larger convenience stores across England are met with kiosks with their shutters down over the tobacco products. One quick glance and these kiosks look closed. To counter this, many of the grocery mults have plastered their shutters with large 'We are open' signs. The problem was, the new law was brought in but someone forgot to tell the smokers!
Yet another big change for smokers and retailers comes into force in a matter of weeks when large stores (more than 280sq m or 3,000sq ft) across England will no longer be able to display tobacco products. From April 6, smokers going into a Tesco superstore to buy their ciggies will not be able to choose from a gantry display but will instead have to ask a kiosk assistant for their preferred brand by name. It may be off-putting and more time-consuming at first, but it's something smokers will have to get used to.