U.K. retailers say tobacco companies have “missed” significant volumes of now-illicit menthol cigarettes during the initial returns phase following the country’s ban on such cigarettes.
The U.K. prohibited sales of menthol cigarettes on May 20, 2020. Prior to the ban, tobacco companies pledged to take back and credit retailers for any noncompliant stock remaining once the legislation came into force.
However, six retailers across England told Better Retailing that they still have menthol brands from Philip Morris Limited (PML) and British American Tobacco U.K., with some holding stock with a combined value worth several hundreds of pounds.
BAT U.K. said it carried out a significant menthol pack return exercise from September to December 2020. “Despite our best efforts, some of our retail partners appear to have been missed in this initial returns phase; we are sorry for any inconvenience caused,” a BAT spokesperson said, adding that a second returns phase would be introduced at the end of this year.
PML said it introduced a nationwide “buy-back” scheme from May to July 2020, which covered all plain packaging products with duty paid.