The NFRN has expressed disappointment at a new report from Action on Smoking (ASH) regarding the profitability of selling tobacco as it has failed to take into account the impact that illicit tobacco has on smokers and legitimate retailers.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “While margins on tobacco products are not as high as that on some of the other products that independent retailers stock, it is still a profitable area for them as many of their customers still smoke.

“But sales have been badly hit by the widespread availability of illicit tobacco.  This is a massive problem that still needs to be properly addressed, not just because of the substantial sales losses for legitimate retailers and the impact it has on the Treasury purse but more importantly, because these products post serious health risks to the people who buy them while undermining tobacco control measures. Sadly, the general public is still not aware of these dangers and more still needs to be done to educate them.”

Mr Baxter added that tobacco profits had also been hit by retailers having to comply with recent legislation such as making their stores compliant with the tobacco display ban that took effect in April last year.

However, he said he agreed with ASH that selling tobacco via gantries was outdated.  “Instead we have been encouraging retailers to take on display solutions that suit their businesses, such as putting tobacco products under the counter or overhead and using the space freed up for new products.”


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