Hatfield shop owner launches campaign against plain packaging for cigarettes
PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 February 2014
A businessman from Hatfield has launched a campaign against mooted plans to sell cigarettes in plain packaging.
Loga Pradhaban, who runs the Costcutter shop in Salisbury Square, Old Hatfield, wrote to MP Grant Shapps with his fears, including the apparent ease of counterfeiting, if the policy is introduced. Mr Shapps visited the store last Friday to speak to Mr Pradhaban and his staff about their concerns over the plan, which is currently under consultation.
In his letter to the MP Mr Pradhaban wrote: “In my long years of retail experience, I have not experienced smokers put off by ugly pictures or health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products.
“Therefore I do not believe the plain packaging will reduce smoking, but drive black market and illicit tobacco products sales, as plain packaging will allow illegal traders to imitate more easily.”
He has gathered more than 50 signatures in a petition opposing plain packaging.
And he said his trade was reliant on cigarettes as they led to footfall and the sale of other products. He called the plain packs proposal “a counterfeiter’s dream and a threat to my livelihood”, which could encourage smuggling and endanger jobs.
Mr Shapps also heard from shop worker Barbara Lawrence, who said the change would lead to confusion and increased waiting times for customers, while not dissuading smoking.
Mr Shapps told the WHT: “Small retailers are at the heart of local communities like this one in Old Hatfield and we can see people come and go all the time.”
And he said it was important to consult such parties on the scheme and promised to make sure Mr Pradhaban and his staff’s concerns would “feed into the final consultation”.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is currently awaiting a report on the findings of a similar scheme in Australia and will make a decision afterwards.
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