SGF slams snub on vape ban

UK and Scottish Governments undemocratic over vape proposals, says Scottish Grocers’ Federation

SGF has slammed UK Governments as undemocratic after it was found responses to its vaping consultation were ignored due to links with the tobacco industry.

THE Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has blasted governments across the UK after it was found that retailer views were excluded over the vaping consultation.

Published on 29 January, the Scottish and UK Governments’ policy response to the ban on single-use vape products stated that ministers “have not considered the views of any organisation or individual that disclosed links to the tobacco industry”.

This is despite organisations such as the SGF and British American Tobacco (BAT) putting forward more constructive responses as opposed to an outright ban on the matter.

Pete Cheema, chief executive at the SGF, 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.

“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 balanced view on behalf of all our members, to work constructively and deliver the best outcome for both retailers and the communities they serve.”

BAT called for the introduction of a retail licence on vapes towards the end of 2023.

The SGF has said that a total of 307 responses had been removed from the government consultation due to completing the declaration they have an affiliation with the tobacco industry.

Prior to Westminster’s announcement of a ban on disposable vapes, the SGF had been working with vape manufacturer Elf Bar to roll out recycling bins for disposable vapes across SGF members’ stores, helping to address environmental concerns.

BAT also called for a retail licence that would permit store owners to sell vapes, similar to ones already in place for tobacco products and alcohol.

And Imperial Brands has stated the firm made its own response to the consultation – one that has likely not been considered – stating the measures would only present further challenges to trading.

Oliver Kutz, general manager for UK & Ireland at Imperial Brands, said: “We are concerned, however, at the likely impact of removing disposable vapes, the most widely used tobacco harm reduction alternative in the UK. Not only will this reduce the accessibility of vaping products to adults seeking to quit smoking, but it will also fuel the illegal trade of unregulated products, already a sizeable problem for enforcement authorities.

“As we stated in our response to the consultation, we believe that a generational smoking ban – untested anywhere in the world – would be unworkable and unenforceable. A proven, immediate, and far simpler alternative would be to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21.”