Plain Nonsense strikes a chord with trade as 3,000 support trade campaign
Independent retailers and wholesalers have rallied to back the Scottish Wholesale Association's trade-only 'Plain Nonsense' campaign against the UK Government's proposals to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco products, with 3,000 supporting a "no change" option.
In a first for the wholesale industry, the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) embarked on a tenacious campaign, urging independent retailers and senior cash and carry management staff to register their opposition to plans to standardise the packaging of tobacco products via a postcard, App and online.
Since launching the campaign at the beginning of May, the UK Department of Health has extended the consultation period by one month - the new closing date is now Friday, 10 August.
Kate Salmon, executive director of the Edinburgh-based trade association, said: "We are both delighted and hugely encouraged by the response to our trade-only 'Plain Nonsense' campaign and make no apology for taking such a bold stance. It has been a robust campaign and one that has clearly struck a chord with our members and their customers - the fact that 3,000 have signed up speaks for itself.
"There is no credible evidence that plain packaging will have an impact on smoking rates in this country and if plain packaging on tobacco products is introduced it will constitute yet another burden on hard-pressed independent retailers who are already drowning in legislation and unnecessary bureaucracy."
In the SWA's official response to the consultation, Salmon calls on the Government to "show leadership in addressing public health issues within the context of the many demands on our trade to play our part in the UK's economic recovery".
Salmon added: "Standardised packaging will inhibit this process. There also remains a widespread view within our industry - at the very highest level - that plain packaging will play into the hands of tobacco counterfeiters operating illicitly, taking business away from legitimate shops. It will confuse retailers and, crucially, it will confuse customers who must be free to choose the legal products they want without difficulty."
The 'Plain Nonsense' campaign, she stressed, is about "protecting small, Scottish family businesses - our members' customers who own and operate independent retail stores the length and breadth of the country".
"If plain packaging on tobacco products is introduced, it will constitute yet another burden on hard-pressed independent retailers who are already drowning in legislation and unnecessary bureaucracy, and facing costly tobacco display bans in their stores," she said.
"We reiterate our very strong view that there is no need for further regulations on what remains a legal product, particularly when there is no credible evidence that plain packaging will lead to a reduction in the number of people smoking. We also remind the Government that plain packaging would inconvenience shoppers who would inevitably have to queue for longer at the checkouts and find making an informed choice both difficult and time-consuming."