The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the government’s decision not to progress with plans to introduce a tobacco licensing scheme for retailers, following a consultation last year.
However, the government has warned that EU regulations to track tobacco product through supply chains could require some additional requirements for companies producing, moving, or selling tobacco.
The government’s response to the consultation states: “The government does not consider that the case has been made for an additional tobacco supply-chain licensing system aimed specifically at reducing the illicit trade...The forthcoming track and trace requirements are also likely to add additional supply chain controls and some form of registration for at least part of the tobacco supply chain.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are pleased that the government has listened to the views of retailers and rejected plans to introduce a burdensome licensing system on retailers that would actually have little impact on the illicit tobacco market. We urge HMRC and trading standards officers to make better use of existing sanctions so any retailer found trading illicit goods is stopped from trading.
“We now need clarity from the UK Government and EU commission about the implications of track and trace regulations for retailers. We believe these regulations would place a significant cost and time burden on retailers, requiring them to register and pay for identifier codes for both their overall business and each individual store, and produce them each time they purchase tobacco. We will be working with the UK Government and EU commission to make these regulations workable.”