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Concerns raised over omitting retailers’ views from vaping and tobacco consultation response

January 31, 2024

Photo: iStock

The Scottish Grocers Federation has raised concerns that convenience retailers, and anyone linked to the sale of tobacco products, have been officially excluded from the government response to its consultation on ‘Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping’.

The UK and Scottish governments on Monday set out their policy response to proposed measures to introduce a generational ban on the sale of tobacco products and place various restrictions on the sale of vaping products, including a ban on single-use vapes.

However, the response states that ministers ‘have not considered the views’ of any organisation or individual that disclosed links to the tobacco industry, when determining their policy response.

This is despite organisations such as SGF putting forward a clear and constructive approach to tackle youth vaping and address environmental concerns, while also highlighting the potential concerns over increase illicit trade and in-store abuse and assaults, the trade body said.

“SGF represents the whole of the Scottish convenience sector, from the smallest city shop to essential rural stores that are lifelines for their community. Yet our views have been entirely ignored,” Pete Cheema, SGF chief executive, said.

“It is true that our members sell tobacco products, but that makes their concerns even more valid. Whether it’s an increase in illicit trade, more potential for flashpoints when serving customers, or the practicalities of delivering these policies in-store.

“Ministers received 28,000 responses to their consultation, which were analysed at break-neck speed, yet the views of SGF and many Scottish retailers have been expunged from the records. That’s not right, or democratic.

“What is even more galling is that SGF put forward a considered a balanced view on behalf of all our members, to work constructively and deliver the best outcome for both retailers and the communities they serve.”

A total of 307 responses were removed from the government response, due to completing the declaration that they have a link to the tobacco industry.