New restrictions on the tobacco sector came into force today (Friday May 20) after a challenge in the High Court was rejected.
Under the new legislation manufacturers will only be able to produce tobacco in standardised packaging with no price marking, with a minimum pack size of 20 cigarettes and 30g of roll your own tobacco. Retailers have a sell-through period of one year in which to ensure that all of their stock is compliant with the new regulations.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has produced comprehensive new guidance for retailers on the upcoming changes.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The combination of the introduction of standardised packaging and the EU Tobacco Products Directive legislation has the potential to cause significant disruption to retailers. Our guidance sets out best practice for retailers at every step of the process, and will help to ensure that they stay within the law.”
The guidance sets out the action that retailers need to take at every stage of the introduction of the regulations and includes details of changes to the law on the sale of tobacco packs, roll-your-own tobacco, e-cigarettes, flavoured tobacco and ‘track and trace’ security features on tobacco products.
It also draws on the experience of retailers in Australia, where standardised tobacco packaging has been in place since December 2012.
Lowman added: “Our guidance provides advice based on the experiences of retailers who have been selling standardised tobacco products for a number of years in Australia, outlining helpful tips to minimise disruption at store level. We strongly encourage retailers to make use of this and our associated guidance on the tobacco display ban to manage the transition to the new regulations as smoothly as possible.”
Martyn Ward, managing director of delivered wholesaler Palmer & Harvey, commented: “Some store owners are not ready for the new tobacco rules - which are the biggest change to tobacco regulation in living memory. There are fears that the new rules will mean extra complexity, higher cost, and lower footfall.
“This is an issue for local stores, who play an important role as the social and economic hubs of our communities. Palmer & Harvey is working hard to support our customers with plans to navigate through these challenges.”