A number of retailers have been in touch, more than a little worried about the rise in the age restriction on the sale of cigarettes. Note that I did not say 'purchase'.
Steve Denham - clearly an ace retailer as he was among seven finalists in the Londis retailer of the year awards, selected from 2,000 others - points out an anomaly in the legislation due to hit in October. "It will still be legal for kids of 16 to buy tobacco, but it will be illegal for retailers to sell it, thereby turning them into criminals if they do so. And the key issue here for some communities will be the abuse that will be levelled at retailers and staff."
Steve is quite at home on a soapbox. "Our lords and masters - government, monopoly suppliers - do not appreciate what it is to be independent, or what our relationship is with the local community that makes us different from a multiple. I'm very concerned about the age rise for tobacco.
"The government is doing nothing to promote the fact that we can serve a 17-year-old cigarettes one day, but not the next."
He adds: "I've never felt so bound up in red tape as I do now. There seems to be no one listening as we're perceived as having no value or power. Take the current Competition Commission inquiry - how much can Tesco invest in their submission and how much can the ACS invest?" (Jointly, we hazard a guess at hundreds of thousands versus mere thousands.)
Cigarettes used to be nicknamed coffin nails in my day. At the moment, Steve is regarding the latest impending bit of legislation as yet another nail you-know-where.
He's working on it, though. He has lobbied his MP on the subject and awaits an answer.
A couple of others have told me they are lobbying their local councils. I particularly liked Manjit Sokhal's query. She asked: "Where can I find a course on how to judge age?"

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