Thursday 21 May 2020

It's That Man Again!

So, the menthol tobacco ban - mandated by the EU's Tobacco Products Directive from 2014 - came in this week and many smokers will have been completely unaware of it until Wednesday when they found that their usual smokes are never to be seen again.

However, one thing we did see again was the British tobacco control industry's only supporter amongst retail tobacconists. Not surprising since just about every anti-smoking initiative could have the potential - even if it is not designed, which is arguable - to put corner shops and newsagents out of business.

Meet - once again - John McClurey, an anti-smoking newsagent who has had years to stop selling cigarettes in his shop but seemingly without success.
Shopkeeper John McClurey said: "Retailers have known for years about the new menthol rules so there is no reason why we shouldn't be well prepared."
"We?", John? So you mean you've been selling these things for the past 5 years?

You may remember Troy McClure McClurey from previous tobacco control press released material such as "it doesn't cost much money to install tobacco display ban equipment".
During the debate over legislation to end retail displays of cigarettes, I remember seeing lobbying claims from trade bodies claiming that the legislation could cost retailers over £10,000. I’ve just worked out the bill for the curtains I will need to put over my gantry for cigarettes – it comes to only £120.
At the time, it was uncanny that his estimate was exactly the same - to the penny - as a fantasy figure promoted to politicians as fact by the anti-smoking movement.
The Ministry of Health asked anti-smoking organisation ASH (which is hardly a disinterested party) to check on the cost, and it claimed the figure for the gantries was just £120. This figure was sent by health minister Lord Darzi to every member of the House of Lords.
When the supplier, 4 Solutions of Canada, heard about this, it pointed out the individual cost would be approximately £450 — and this did not include any of the installation costs, which would be around £1000. They also pointed out that the costs of the gantries for all the outlets in Britain could be over £30 million. Neither ASH nor the Ministry of Health has corrected the information they have given to the members of the House of Lords in advance of the vote.
That was in 2009 but poor John has still not managed to stop selling the cigarettes that he dislikes so much.

Scroll onto 2016 and John made another return in response to an ASH report with a bold statement:
ASH research shows corner shops don’t need tobacco to be profitable
McClurey was happy to be their patsy on behalf of others in his industry who overwhelmingly disagree with him.
He believes it’s time for change and welcomes the ASH report because it challenges retailers to consider whether tobacco companies and their local reps really have retailers’ interests in mind.  
McClurey added:  
“The decline in the market, the disappearance of cigarettes behind gantry doors and the shift to plain packaging have made the traditional approach to selling tobacco out-dated. A better alternative for retailers is to reduce stock, shift the gantry and free-up space for products that actually turn a decent profit.”
Well, there's nothing stopping you, John. It's very simple, just stop selling cigarettes. You know what they say about actions being worth much more than words.

Yet here we are, four years later, and John seems to have only just quit selling menthols. And there is a good reason why.
“We have seen from Australia that retailers who price at RRP or below have had no adverse effect on their tobacco sales. This is critically important as the tobacco shopper visits c-stores more regularly than non-smokers and spends almost £1,500 per year more in store. As a customer group, these shoppers are vital to your business and for your continued success, you need to retain these shoppers rather than drive them to rivals.”
So, goodbye menthol cigarettes, but hello again to John McClurey, the most indecisive anti-smoking newsagent in the country. Proudly - and alone - championing the tobacco control industry's efforts to close down his fellow newsagents' businesses without actually setting an example by stopping selling 'unprofitable' products himself.

What a trooper! 

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