Plain packaged cigarettes are starting to appear on convenience store gantries less than three months after the manufacturing ban on branded packs was enforced.
The dull green packs, which feature large graphic health warnings, are largely being met with “ridicule” by adult smokers and retailers alike.
Premier retailer Dan Cocks, of Whitstone Stores in Devon, was told by his sales representative that branded stocks of Benson & Hedges Superkings would be amongst the first to sell out. The advance warning meant he had time to warn adult smokers, before the new packs arrived in store.
“Adult smokers tend to react in the same way to plain packs: initial shock which is quickly followed by ridicule” he said.
Worcestershire retailer Chaz Chahal tweeted an image of the new Benson & Hedges Superkings Sky Blue plain packs after they arrived in his store, along with the phrase: “what a load of rubbish.”
Londis retailer Mike Dorey, of Eastcombe Stores in Gloucestershire, has been selling plain packs for several weeks now.
However, he believes that the loss of smaller packs, under the new EU Tobacco Products Directive rules, is a far greater concern.
“I now have plain packs of Benson & Hedges Superkings 20s on my gantry. I don’t expect plain packaging to cause too much of an issue, it’s the loss of small pouches and packs that will cause the problem. The outlay for smokers is going to be so much more once they have to buy the larger formats and I’m sure it will prompt a shift in shopping habits,” he said.
Raj Patel of Weybridge News in Surrey said he was no longer able to buy in any pricemarked packs (PMPs) despite visiting three separate cash and carries last week.
“The loss of PMPs and smaller packs is what concerns my adult smoking customers the most,” he said.
“Shoppers aren’t that bothered by the plain packs, at the end of the day they still contain their preferred brand of cigarettes or rolling tobacco,” he said.