Reacting to yesterday’s Government announcement proposing banning the display of tobacco products in England and Wales, Imperial Tobacco has re-iterated its view that the proposals are anti-competitive; undermine the principle of adult choice; create a huge work and cost burden for retailers; and will further fuel the illicit trade in tobacco products.
Amal Pramanik, general manager of Imperial Tobacco in the UK, said:
“Imperial Tobacco shares the Government’s objective to reduce the rates of youth smoking, but we are totally opposed to regulation that restricts or prohibits retailers from displaying tobacco products. Furthermore, we utterly refute claims that ‘the display of tobacco in retail environments has become the primary source of tobacco marketing for young people’.
It should be noted that one of the four main areas of the Consultation, ’Protecting children and young people from smoking’, received just 437 responses (representing less than 0.5% of total responses).
Imperial Tobacco also believes the Government is not fully aware of the potential impact on retailers when it states that ‘taking action on the display of tobacco at the retail point of sale should not represent a significant financial burden on retailers.’
Amal Pramanik continues: “Product display restrictions are unnecessary and ill-conceived and there is absolutely no evidence from other markets that consumption has declined as a result of such legislation. Currently 27% of cigarettes consumed in the UK each year are non duty-paid and a ban on display will undoubtedly increase the illicit trade in tobacco products which will significantly impact on the livelihoods of legitimate retailers. Stricter enforcement of the current age laws coupled with more resources for Trading Standards to tackle illegal selling is the answer. This should be the key priority, rather than to burden those retailers who sell a legitimate product with these anti-competitive proposals.
“Imperial Tobacco recognises that tobacco products must be appropriately regulated by Governments. But legislation must meet the principles of good regulation, by being proportionate, evidence based and fit for purpose. We believe it is wholly unreasonable for adult smokers to be denied the same rights as other consumers to view and make an informed choice about a legal product.”
Pramanik concludes: “The display of tobacco products is an integral part of the purchasing process as it provides adult smokers with the information to make a genuine selection from the wide range of tobacco products, brands and prices that are available in retail outlets.”