Following a vote in Parliament earlier today, the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance has expressed its anger at the decision to proceed with plain packaging for cigarettes. There was no debate of the issue on the floor of the House.
“You have to own a small shop like mine to understand how damaging this decision is. We are just emerging from the deepest recession in living history. The display ban is hitting small shops in a month’s time. Now, we have the triple whammy of plain tobacco packaging. That’s despite all of the Government’s own consultations roundly rejecting the proposals and there being no credible evidence that plain packs will do anything to protect young people’s health. We are being deeply let down by politicians who should be protecting small businesses, not undermining them,” said the Spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance, Blackburn shopkeeper Suleman Khonat.
As well as ignoring the results of its consultations on plain packaging, the Government is ignoring evidence from Australia (the first country to introduce the measure).
There, plain packaging has failed to stop young people from smoking and the illicit tobacco trade has increased. As many feared, it seems that plain packaging in Australia has only benefited the criminals – by lowering the bar with single-design packs which are much easier to copy.
“So much for the promise that this Government would only introduce legislation based on hard evidence. So much too for its promise to reduce red tape to make it easier for small shops to do business and help boost the economy. This will do neither. It will simply undermine legitimate businesses while helping the tobacco smugglers, who are already thriving.” added Suleman.
Note for editors
The Tobacco Retailers' Alliance is a coalition of independent shopkeepers who all sell tobacco products. Since 1983 it has represented the rights of legitimate retailers to sell tobacco products in a legal and responsible way. Through our work we aim to raise awareness of issues affecting small shops that sell tobacco products. The Tobacco Retailers' Alliance (TRA) is funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association which means free membership can be offered to all independent retailers who sell tobacco.
22nd January, 2015 -
Following the announcement of the Government's intention to move ahead with plain packaging of tobacco products, Suleman Khonat, the National Spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance and a Blackburn shopkeeper commented:
"This announcement is a hammer blow to the tens of thousands of small retailers across the country. We are already dealing with the negatives impact of measures such as the display ban but the evidence from Australia shows that plain packaging has led to an increase in smuggled and illicit tobacco. This will damage the incomes of legitimate businesses and make it easier for children to buy tobacco off street corners. Organised criminals don't care who they sell to or how old they are. The government needs to rethink this decision if it cares about the future of local retailers and the communities that they serve."
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