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ACS Questions Decisive Action

The Association for Convenience Stores (ACS) has questioned the government’s ‘decisive action’ and calls for increased resources for Trading Standards departments

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The Association for Convenience Stores (ACS) has questioned the government’s ‘decisive action’, ruing the limit placed on its submission’s influence and highlighting how the black market sells completely unregulated devices. It has also called for an increase in resources to be made available to Trading Standards departments.

In a blog post on its website, the ACS says that “it's frustrating that policy-makers still seem to think that banning something will mean it ceases to exist.”

The ACS attacks both the Scottish and Westminster governments for opting for bans because they will “attract the least debate and attention”. 

Writing on behalf of the ACS, Chris says: “I’m proud of our very detailed submission to the consultation on vape regulation last year and the several meetings with the Department of Health and other government departments where we have explained our members’ views, and by the campaigns we have run to promote responsible retailing of vapes going back over a few years and most recently our guidance on vape recycling. 

“Sadly, the decision has been made to press ahead with a ban and our scope to influence this decision is quite limited now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, because this is simply bad policy that won’t achieve its objectives and will hurt local shops, and because if we let policies like this become law without calling out their obvious weaknesses, what else might be done in the future?”

The ACS is encouraging its members to write to their MPs to share their feelings about the potential impacts of this policy, “and why it won’t be effective.”

In other news, the ACS is demanding that Trading Standards receive additional resources, over and above the announced allocation of funds.

In welcoming the publication of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute manifesto, calling on the Government to commit significant additional resources to support the work of Trading Standards in communities across the UK, the ACS says polling of Trading Standards officers suggests that they are struggling to deal with the volume of intelligence that they’re receiving on the illicit vaping market. 

The headline figure is that 61% of enforcement officers said they don’t have the resources to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and vaping – and this is before the banning of disposables that will feed the black market.

The CTSI manifesto sets out three priority areas for the next Government:

  • Build back Trading Standards services to better protect consumers and law-abiding businesses through additional investment of over £100m over the course of the next four years
  • Create more confident consumers by putting in place greater levels of protection, for example by appointing a Consumer Champion
  • Develop a regulatory system that supports business innovation and growth, which includes clearer legal duties for online businesses

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The work of Trading Standards is essential in ensuring the safety and legitimacy of the products that retailers sell. The main theme of this report is a need for more resources to put Trading Standards services on a more sustainable footing. Trading Standards resources have been stretched to breaking point while the Government commits inadequate funding to deal with major issues, such as the illicit tobacco and vaping markets. We will continue to work closely with our Trading Standards partners and Surrey and Buckinghamshire though our industry leading Assured Advice scheme, and highlight the need for officers to have additional funding to be able to do their jobs effectively.

John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI who launched the Manifesto in Parliament said: “Our Manifesto sets out the bold and necessary action we believe is vital to protect consumers and law-abiding businesses.  The UK’s Trading Standards profession is at the heart of protecting consumers, and we provide a significant layer of defence, but this layer has been decimated in recent years, with the consequence that consumers are at an all-time high of being ripped off, and susceptible to buying products that may be substandard, counterfeit or dangerous.

“Now is the time that we must build back the Trading Standards workforce so that consumers can once again be confident, which is vital for the UK’s economic growth and prosperity.”

The government is not committing to increasing Trading Standards funding by the requested amount, preferring to give the bulk of funds to Border Force.

Photo Credit:

  • Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

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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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