The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) launched its new ‘Fair Deal for Small Shops’ campaign at Westminster this week.

Retailer and TRA national spokesman Suleman Khonat was joined by store owners from around the country to bring its new campaign to the attention of MPs and Peers.

The Fair Deal for Small Shops campaign addresses four key areas: the illicit trade in tobacco, the creation of a tobacco retailer registration scheme, crime prevention and the impact of regulation.

“All small retail businesses are under pressure and none more so than those selling tobacco products,” Suleman said.

“In addition to coping with a continuous stream of tobacco regulation, legitimate retailers are suffering from the impact of illegal tobacco on their businesses and local communities.

“This was not helped by the 40% increase in tobacco taxes over the course of the last Parliament. Illicit tobacco and government taxation policy was the key concern of members at our recent AGM.”

The TRA is proposing that:

  • More resources be devoted to tackling the illicit trade in tobacco, that penalties are applied strictly and consistently against the criminals and the proceeds of crime from illegal tobacco is invested in local communities.
  • The government should give proper evidence-based consideration of a retailer registration scheme which if introduced should be free and aimed at reducing the size of the illicit market.
  • Measures to address retail crime this should include a guaranteed visit from the police when a crime occurs, a review of Fixed Penalty Notices, sentencing and other sanctions. Shop workers should benefit from the same legal protection as emergency workers.
  • The government should maintain its One in, Two Out rule for legislation affecting retailers. All legislation affecting the retail sector should be kept under review.

“As independent retailers, we need to be heard loud and clear. This was a great opportunity for ordinary corner shop owners who sell tobacco to get in front of their elected representatives, and other key decision makers, to tell them what it’s really like at the coalface of independent retailing. We encouraged them to listen and, most importantly, to act,” Suleman added.

The reception was held in a House of Lords Committee Room.