Real cost of plain tobacco packs to independent retailers is revealed

Burning Cigarette

The recent study of Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) demonstrates the implementation of plain cigarette packaging could cost owners of shops “tens of millions of pounds” per year, informed Independent Retail News.

The results were revealed when the UK government’s public consultation on plain cigarette packaging has finished, while the courts in Australia have supported its government’s intention to implement standardised packaging in December.

The Rural Shops Alliance conducted a study project, sponsored by British American Tobacco, to reveal how plain cigarette packaging would influence the length of time staff would take to serve cigarettes to customers, using “professionally produced” plain packs.

Staff members at the four trial stores, two below 3,000sq ft and two larger shops, were examined during two weeks to reveal how long it took to serve the plain cigarette packs to nearly 2,500 tobacco customers, compared to the same transactions for normal cigarette packs.

The findings of the study are being quantified and a detailed report will finally be directed to the Department of Health, which will report its results on the consultation by the end of the year or early in 2013.

“The primary results are strong” said the RSA. “The time taken for a shop assistant to obtain the right product for the customer more than doubled, and staff made a lot of mistakes in the process which increased by 4 times.

“It was as well discovered that staff spent long tome standing with their back to customers, an inappropriate risk of security in some places. The implementation of plain cigarette packs would have a strong and essential influence on store costs and customer service times” reported the RSA. “Although it is hard to estimate this faultlessly, it is obviously that this would cost shopkeepers tens of millions of pounds a year.”

The Australian government has obtained great support from the part of those who accepted the introduction of plain packaging, despite declares that the measure would break trademark rights. UK campaigners who did not support standardised packaging said that the judicial decision would not affect its own efforts.

Independent retail dealerDebbie Corris, national spokeswoman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, said that standardised packaging would develop the tobacco black market.

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