SWA launches robust campaign against plain packaging
THE Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has launched a robust campaign - entitled 'Plain Nonsense' - against the UK Government's proposals to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco products.
In a first for the wholesale industry, the Edinburgh-based trade association is urging independent retailers - its members' customers - to register their opposition to plans to standardise the packaging of tobacco products via a postcard, App and online at www.scottishwholesale.co.uk/plain-nonsense.
The SWA's tenacious campaign is focusing on four key points in its opposition to the UK Government's proposals:
No Evidence: There is no credible evidence that plain packaging will have an impact on smoking rates.
Illicit Trade: Plain packaging would be a boost to smugglers and counterfeiters, taking business away from legitimate shops.
Confused Retailers: If every product looks the same it will be impossible to serve customers efficiently.
Confused Customers: Customers should be free to choose the products they want without difficulty.
Kate Salmon, executive director of the SWA, explained: "This campaign 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. We are taking an exceptionally bold stance on this and have the full support of our members who do not want to see the introduction of any legislation that puts the future livelihoods of independent retailers at risk."
Salmon added: "Small retailers are already facing costly tobacco display bans in their stores so we see no need for any 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.
"As well as hindering hard-working retailers going about their day-to-day business, plain packaging would also inconvenience their customers who would inevitably have to queue for longer at the checkouts and find making an informed choice both difficult and time-consuming.
"Finally, there is the widespread fear within our industry that these ill-advised proposals would actually benefit the illicit trade of tobacco. Be under no illusion that the trade in smuggled and counterfeited tobacco products in Scotland is a significant one - it is our belief that the introduction of plain packaging would merely exacerbate this."
Postcard submissions to the 'Plain Nonsense' campaign close on 1 July while online registrations can be accepted up until 6 July.
Find out more about the consultation here.