As distributors of tobacco products, FWD members help to ensure that age-restricted goods are sold legally through responsible retailers.
FWD supports measures to prevent the illegal trade in counterfeit and duty-avoided cigarettes, and initiatives that raise awareness of the health harms associated with smoking. We’re working with Imperial Tobacco to encourage retailers and other cash and carry customers to report illicit activity in the tobacco market.
Recently, the EU Commission published its draft regulations to establish a ‘track and trace’ system for tobacco. The draft regulations offer a regulatory framework that would place numerous requirements on wholesalers. FWD has joined with colleagues from 15 trade associations in the European distribution sector to raise concerns with the European Commission on this issue, as well as engaging directly with HMRC in the UK, as well as the EU Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons.
Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol at 50p per unit was introduced in Scotland on May 1. The Scottish Government has published general guidance for ‘reference for sellers of alcohol’ on MUP ( www.minimumunitpricing.scot). The guidance is mainly about implementation and pricing issues and enforcement and it notes that it is not for wholesalers but has links across to the wholesale guidance produced by the Scottish Wholesale Association.
FWD has been working with the Scottish Government ahead of the introduction of MUP and the treatment of wholesale, an issue which was raised in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government was questioned on its work with wholesalers, and acknowledged the tight timescale for implementation. The Government said it was confident that “extensive work” had been done to communicate with relevant stakeholders. decisions of the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.
We are still in dialogue to get clarity on how MUP will affect wholesalers holding a premise licence and what the Scottish Government’s guidance on this issue is. The Scottish Government’s general MUP guidance can be found here
This does not include guidance on how licensed wholesalers should deal with this issue. The Scottish Government will not be providing statutory guidance.
While there is no definitive legal position at present, there are two credible legal opinions on this issue:
Wholesalers should clearly delineate within their premises different physical areas for “trade to trade” sales and non-trade sales. They would then only require the part of the premises where non-trade sales occur to be licensed. This would have the effect of non-trade sales taking place on licensed premises, with ‘trade to trade” sales taking place outside licensed premises and, therefore, not subject to the manda- tory licensing conditions, and minimum pricing. It may be necessary for a variation of the premises licence to be lodged with the local Licensing Board in order to give effect to this.
A business which holds a premises licence for sales to the public or non-hospitality sales must sell alcohol “under and in accordance with” the terms of that licence. However, trade to trade sales are to be exempt from the 2005 Act and therefore do not need to comply with the terms of the premises licence. This would allow wholesalers to offer alcohol at two prices:
MUP price for non-trade sales
Non MPU price for “trade to trade” sales
FWD’s advice, and that of the Scottish Government, is that businesses must take their own legal advice and make their own decisions about how they run their operations. Two businesses which have produced a legal opinion on licensing in Scotland are: