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Government Ignored Trade Voices

The Scottish Grocers Federation says that views from the convenience retail sector were completely ignored by the government when it decided on what action to take on vaping

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The Scottish Grocers Federation says that views from the convenience retail sector were completely ignored by the government when it decided on what action to take on vaping. The Federation raised its concerns that convenience retailers, and anyone linked to the sale of tobacco products, had been officially excluded and cautioned that the proposals risk supporting a black market and punishing honest businesses.

The UK and Scottish governments have set out their policy response to proposed measures to introduce a generational ban on the sale of tobacco products and place various restrictions on the sale of vaping products, including a ban on single-use vapes.

However, the response, which is available publicly online, states that ministers ‘have not considered the views’ of any organisation or individual that disclosed links to the tobacco industry, when determining their policy response,” the Scottish Grocers Federation commented.

The Federation says it put forward “a clear and constructive approach to tackle youth vaping and address environmental concerns. While also highlighting the potential concerns over increase illicit trade and in-store abuse and assaults.”

Chief Executive, Dr Pete Cheema OBE, said: “The Scottish Grocers Federation represents the whole of the Scottish convenience sector, from the smallest city shop to essential rural stores that are lifelines for their community. Yet our views have been entirely ignored.

“It is true that our members sell tobacco products, but that makes their concerns even more valid. Whether it’s an increase in illicit trade, more potential for flashpoints when serving customers, or the practicalities of delivering these policies in-store.

“Ministers received 28,000 responses to their consultation, which were analysed at break-neck speed, yet the views of the Scottish Grocers Federation and many Scottish retailers have been expunged from the records. That’s not right, or democratic.

“What is even more galling is that the Scottish Grocers Federation put forward a considered a balanced view on behalf of all our members, to work constructively and deliver the best outcome for both retailers and the communities they serve.”

The organisation says that a total of 307 responses were removed from the government response, due to completing the declaration that they have a link to the tobacco industry.

Regarding the government’s plans, the Scottish Grocers Federation said that “vaping products are an essential cessation device for people who wish to quit smoking, and a ban could potentially have a negative impact on both public health and illicit trade (retail crime). While also putting struggling retailers under even more pressure.”

The proposals included raising the tobacco age of sale so that no one born on or after 1st January 2009 legally buy tobacco and restrictions on the in-store display, flavours and packaging of vaping products.

Dr Cheema continued: “We have been working with producers to encourage alternative vaping products over disposables, and with our retail members, on delivering vape recycling bins in store.

“We are also urging producers to make names and packaging much less appealing to children. Working with our retail members to stop store placement which attracts children and non-smokers, and place vapes alongside tobacco products to show them as an alternative, not an addition.

“Ministers have chosen to ban disposables. However, it is important to take a serious look at any potential any unintended consequences such as an increase in illicit trade or reduction of vapes as a cessation device. SGF will engage with both governments to ensure the best outcome for retailers and their communities.

“It is important, though, to remember both sides of this coin. Vaping is the most successful cessation tool, and we must ensure that vapes remain accessible to adult smokers.

Placing more and more regulatory pressure on retailers will inevitably lead to fewer stores being viable in the long term.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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