most shop owners support existing tobacco laws and want to Govt go further in protecting people’s health, says a new report.

People Newsagents, off-licences, convenience stores and petrol station businesses are all in favor of increased regulation, while many are concerned about the sale of vaping to children, it has emerged.

Charity action on Smoking and Health (Ash) commissioned a survey of 961 small tobacco retailers across the UK and shared its findings with the PA news agency.

Eight in 10 (81%) agree that there should be a compulsory licensing scheme for tobacco sales to prevent sales to children, illegal sales and to give local authorities more powers.

The same part also supports mandatory age verification for anyone who looks under 25, which the report says will make enforcement easier in England.

Only one in 20 shop owners oppose both measures.

The survey also found that more than half (54%) of retailers believe the age for purchasing tobacco should be raised from 18 to 21.

Meanwhile, 73% support requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay the government for policies that help people quit and prevent young people from starting.

When asked why they still stock cigarettes and tobacco, 76% of retailers said they want local smokers to continue to use their stores, while 51% said revenue from tobacco products is an important part of their total profit.

A further survey found that 76% of retailers believe that tobacco is important to their business because customers buy another product at the same time.

Although 51% of retailers believe that the money from tobacco products is an important part of their overall profit, 72% said that they do not make much profit from a pack of cigarettes compared to other products.

Shopkeepers want the government to go further and introduce tougher rules – which they say will be good for business, not deregulation

And only 13% said that the ban on cigarette displays and the introduction of plain packaging had a negative impact on their business.

Tory MP Bob Blackman, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health, said: “Supporting small businesses is rightly a priority for the Government, particularly retail outlets as they are at the heart of our local communities.

“So the main argument tobacco manufacturers use against tobacco regulation with politicians like me is that it will hurt small shops.

“Tobacco regulations should be bad for manufacturers, but this survey of nearly 1,000 shopkeepers proves they don’t think regulations such as those that keep cigarettes out of sight in shops or in standard packs are bad for retailers.

“Shopkeepers want the government to go further and introduce tougher rules – they think that will be good for business, not deregulation.”

Like the public, most retailers support the key measures needed to stop smoking

Ash Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “To achieve a smoke-free 2030, the Government must strengthen regulations to support smokers to quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking.

“Like the public, most retailers support key measures needed to stop smoking, such as raising the smoking age, introducing a tobacco license and making tobacco manufacturers pay to help smokers quit.

Retailers are not anti-regulatory; they know that good regulation can make their lives easier by leveling the playing field.

“That’s why they want the retail regulatory loophole to be closed by introducing a compulsory tobacco license backed by tougher penalties for breaking the law.”

John Herriman, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “A compulsory tobacco license and age verification for anyone who looks under 25 would make it easier for trading standards to comply with the law, benefiting reputable retailers.”

The report shows that 71% of retailers support increased fines for breaking the law, 81% support more regular inspections under trading standards and 79% support closure orders for retailers who repeatedly break the law.

When it comes to e-cigarettes, 51% of retailers said they expect them to become more important to their business in the next decade, but 69% support tighter controls in areas such as colors, cartoon characters and naming e-cigarettes after candy – all of them are liked by children.

When asked if they were interested in expanding e-cigarettes and vaping, 36% of retailers surveyed in England said they were interested, while 37% said they were not.

The report concluded: “The English government should not be deterred from introducing new tobacco control measures because of concerns about their impact on local retailers.

“Among retailers, support for new measures far outweighs opposition, even for measures that will directly affect the day-to-day sale of tobacco products, including the proposed raising of the selling age from 18 to 21.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The Government continues to enforce tough regulations on the sale of cigarettes which help smokers quit and protect future generations from this deadly habit.

“We are currently considering a wide range of independent recommendations set out in the Khan Review (published in June), which includes further regulation. We will provide a further update in due course.”


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