Supermarkets are opening specialist tobacco stores next door to their food retail premises to get round the ban on tobacco sales from July 1, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday.
Tobacconist shops can be opened without a licence but will have to be registered from July, when supermarkets will be banned from selling cigarettes and rolling tobacco. Anti-tobacco group TabakNee is now campaigning for the introduction of licences to sell tobacco, a measure which has been backed by a majority of MPs.
The lobby group said in September that 33 new cigarette shops were opened in four months and half of them were owned by supermarkets. In addition, Dekamarkt is experimenting with setting up Primera stores within stores. Primera is 46% owned by British American Tobacco, TabakNee said.
Jumbo franchise owner Rolf Hoogkamer has opened a specialist store next to his store in Breda shopping centre De Burcht. He told the FD he had doubts and does not smoke himself. “But there was a lot of demand,” he said. “It is often older people who live in the flats near here and can’t walk far. They can now easily still pick up [their cigarettes] and that is a good thing.”
The total market for tobacco products reached €4.4 billion in 2020 and €2.4 billion of that was down to supermarkets, the FD said. “There is a 7.5% profit margin on each packet,” Hoogkamer said.
“Some 7% of our turnover comes from tobacco, so you are talking about €700 million a year,” Jumbo chief executive Ton van Veen told the Telegraaf earlier.
The government has introduced several measures to discourage smoking. Taxes have driven the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to €10, advertising is banned and tobacco has to be sold in neutral packaging without branding.
By 2032, sales will be restricted to specialist stores only.
Lidl supermarkets stopped selling tobacco products in 2021 and AH’s own stores at the beginning of this year, although franchise owners are free to take their own decision.
The outgoing government has agreed to leave the issue of licencing tobacco shops up to the next administration.
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