Independent retailers rally against plain packaging in Westminster
In the UK, National Federation of Retail Newsagents donned plain masks and t-shirts saying ‘NFRN says no to plain packaging’
12 February 2015
Around 100 independent retailers from all over the UK and the Republic of Ireland descended on Westminster on Wednesday (11 February) to rally against the government’s plan to put tobacco in plain packs.
After meeting with MPs Nick de Bois and Gerry Sutcliffe to share concerns about the damaging impact that such a move would have on public health and the businesses of independent retailers, members of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents donned plain masks and t-shirts saying ‘NFRN says no to plain packaging’ before marching to the Department of Health to make clear their opposition to the plans.
National president Martyn Brown said: “The fact that so many retailers came to London today should send a very clear message to the government about the strength of feeling against plain packs.
“In less than two months time tobacco displays in all small independent retailers’ shops will be hidden behind screens or sliding doors and they have been out of sight in supermarkets and larger stores since April 2012. So why do we need plain packs? Put plainly and simply we don’t.
“Plain packaging is not the way to stop young people smoking. All it will achieve will be a rise in smuggled or counterfeit tobacco. Sales will be taken away from those who retail responsibly and into the hands of a wholly unscrupulous and criminal fraternity who will exploit any opportunity to make money, including selling tobacco to those under the age of 18.”
During the rally, Brown passionately urged NFRN members to play a part in getting the government’s plan overturned.
“Make your MP aware that plain packs will not stop young people from smoking,” he told fellow retailers. “Remind them that counterfeit cigarettes are already a huge and growing problem and that putting tobacco products into plain packs will make this even worse.
“Put pen to paper and write to your MP. Even better, invite your MP to your shop. Talk to your customers and get them to tell your MPs that they don’t want plain packs either.”
“Doing so will mean that together we can send clear messages to the government: that consumers are opposed to plain packs, that plain packs will not prevent people from smoking, that the sale of illicit tobacco will just get easier.
“Put plainly and simply, plain packaging is not the answer.”