According to UK Trading Standards, retailers are prohibited from supplying tobacco to any person under the age of 18 years or they could face a fine of up to £2,500. Those selling Illicit Tobacco are not subject to the UK Trading Standards and do not feel the need to sell to people over the age of 18.
With the illicit trade becoming bigger over time, young users know they can get their supply from other source. For example, it is easy to purchase tobacco from social media platforms such as Facebook with 1,800,000 users between the ages of 13-17 in the UK alone. Once distributors have there contact base, they do not need to look elsewhere for custom.
In what way has this change impacted your business?
- "We have reported people to the Trading Standards."
- "People have a limited choice but still choose to buy and smoke. If the government still carry’s on with more taxes then small businesses will eventually vanish and it will be a shame as small stores are part of British history."
- "We have limited support from HMRC."
- "What can we do, you stop one person another one takes over. Before you know it the trade is spiralling out of control."
- "We are trying to promote Local Loyalty and Home Delivery"
- "We are focusing on other areas of our store to encourage growth"
- "I cannot do a lot. Media sites such as Facebook that support Buy, Swap and Sell pages need to be monitored by Trading standards and the police. When I have made comments opposing to people selling ill-gotten gains I get verbally abused by them. It’s a no win situation."
- "We have tried as much as we can but cannot seem to get our customer base back on a regular basis."
- "We cannnot promote tobacco products so we are limited in boosting the tobacco category."
- "I have invited along the local department to our next trade meeting."
- "Talking to customers about the impact it has on small businesses."
- "We are choosing to invest in E-Cigarettes and other alternatives and hope customers remain loyal."
What is the Tobacco Industry doing about it?
The industry is aware of the problem and are actively combating the smuggling of both genuine and counterfeit tobacco products into the UK as well as seeking to deter all aspects of the illicit trade in tobacco products.
This can be summarised as a five step approach:
- Collaborative Working
- Mobilising Support
To Read more about how The Tobacco Manufacturers Association are tackling the Illicit Tobacco Trade click Here