Plans to implement a tobacco licensing scheme for retailers have been scrapped, the government has confirmed. In its response to a recent consultation, the government said it does not consider that the case for an additional tobacco supply chain licensing system, designed to reduce the illicit trade, has been made.
However, ministers stressed that the forthcoming track and trace requirements from the European Union mean additional supply chain controls are still likely to be added, along with some form of registration process.
Responding to the announcement, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said it is pleased the government has listened to retailers’ views and rejected plans to introduce a “burdensome licensing system”.
James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, argued that the system being proposed by ministers would have had little impact on the illicit tobacco market.
He therefore urged HM Revenue & Customs and trading standards officers to make “better use of existing sanctions, so any retailer found trading illicit goods is stopped from trading”.
Mr Lowman also called on ministers and European officials to provide clarity about the implications of track and trace regulations for retailers.
He said these regulations are likely to place a “significant cost and time burden on retailers, requiring them to register and pay for identifier codes for both their overall business and each individual store, and produce them each time they purchase tobacco”.
Mr Lowman added that the ACS will work with both the European Commission and the British government to ensure these regulations are workable.
For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Robert Botkai in our Commercial Real Estate and Licensing department.