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Small pack cigarette ban may affect convenience stores

In what is claimed to be an attempt to stop young people smoking, public health campaigners are attempting to ban small packets of cigarettes, with the hope to make packs of 20 the minimum.

Cigarettes In the UK almost a third of smokers buy packs of fewer than 20. Likewise just under half of Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco is sold in quantities of less than 20g – but the ban would rule out these sales of RYO tobacco by making 20g the minimum. Retailers are claiming that this ban is set to impair the cash flow of small c-stores*. In a vast amount of the EU the smaller pack ban has already been put into place, and it seems the UK may be the next country to follow suit.

Packets of 10 cigarettes are being pinned as “kiddy packs” as they are the most affordable, however campaigners hope a 20 pack minimum means children would be less likely to be able to afford them. Those campaigning claim 10 packs have only ever been put in place to make cigarettes appear cheaper so that young people will buy them. Just 10 years ago the sale of single cigarettes was banned for affordability reasons.

There is much debate around what this could mean for retailers and wholesalers, as it has been suggested that the ban will drive smokers to the black market rather than buying in store. 13% of cigarette trade is estimated to be controlled by smugglers already, according to HM Customs and Excise. With this is mind, it has been suggested that almost 1 in 10 smokers  purchasing 10 packs or RYO tobacco less than 20g are set to turn to the black market should the ban go ahead.**

Retail Newsagent conducted their own poll of which showed 6.9% of smokers would give up smoking if the ban took place, whilst 3.3% would take up electronic cigarettes instead. Almost 9% said they would smoke less, leaving 65.1% claiming they would buy bigger packs. There has been much said surrounding the issue, some feel the UK Parliament are encouraging people to smoke more and others worry about the amount of custom that may be lost to the illegal smuggling. According to HM Revenue and Custom figures, last year the cost of tobacco smuggling increased to £1.8bn.

*Figures originally published by Convenience Store magazine 25/10/13
** Figures originally published by Retail Newsagent 18/10/2013

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