Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Written evidence submitted by Sautter Cigars to the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Public Bill Committee (TVB16)

Re: Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2023-24 Written evidence submitted by Laurence Davis of Sautter Cigars

- The effect of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill (TVB) on retailers of Other Tobacco Products (OTPs) – such as cigars, pipes, tobacco and snuff – will be wholly negative and damaging to the economy, as well as to personal freedom.
- OTPs are legal products sold by responsible retailers.
- OTPs are special products with a different client base, customer usage and public perception to cigarettes.
- The sale and consumption of OTPs is not the primary target for this legislation.
- 40% of customers who purchase OTPs are 36-60 years old, and 84% of customers are over 26 years of age.
- No impact assessments have been made on the Bill's effect on retailers of OTPs.
- The unnecessary collateral damage caused by the Bill can be easily avoided by excluding OTPs from the legislation - as with the packaging rules.

1. I am a retailer of 30+ years located in Mount Street of Mayfair, London and Knightsbridge, London. The Mount Street shop has been present in the community for 50+ years and has adapted its product range over those years to remain a key part of the local economy. I employ 15 staff across both sites and enjoy a turnover of £2m p.a.

2. Tobacco and its nicotine derivatives have been the sole part of the offering made and my business has adapted to the constantly changing regulation and customer driven preferences. To comply with the law we have invested extensively in the infrastructure needed to sell tobacco and the operational specifics such as age verification. We have a separate Tobacco room with restricted access to over 18-year-olds only, a fitted Humidor for the legal display of cigars and have recently fitted out an adjacent sampling room with a complete air cleaning system. The turnover from Other Tobacco Products now accounts for 25% of my business.

3. We have always been a responsible retailer within the community and diligently apply the age restrictions to any appropriate products.

4. This legislation will ultimately cause the lay-off of at least 5 of my staff and may even result in the business itself being unable to survive.

5. People smoke cigarettes because they "have to". They smoke cigars because they "want to". Cigars are a cultural product with a very traditional heritage. It is an unashamedly premium product for a select clientele. The lineage of some retailers stretch back 230 years, supplying fine cigars to Royalty and dignitaries from around the world. It is, without doubt, a lifestyle product and there is no evidence of early usage by underage smokers, no evidence that it is a gateway to the far more addictive cigarette smoking, and no evidence to date that OTPs generally pose any significant health threat to consumers.

6. The TVB will slowly strangle this industry, which is not the target of the legislation. "Stopping the start" is not applicable to the cigar industry as it is not in this arena that youth smoking begins. Cigar smokers are usually occasional users, not habitual ones. Enjoying a fine cigar in an allocated space is totally different from a hasty "fag" on the office steps.

7. The Association of Independent Tobacco Specialists undertook a survey in July 2008, and the results showed that 84% of customers purchasing OTPs were over 26 years of age (and 40% were aged 36-60 years old). The survey was recorded in Hansard at the time.

8. The proposed legislation on Vapes will have very little adverse effect, as adult vapers will move to refillable units and other flavours if some are banned.

9. The TVB on cigarettes will cause great difficulty in administering and enforcing, but may prevent new smokers from getting a cigarette addiction - if the illicit market can be curtailed.

10. The TVB on OTPs will cause disproportionate harm to small businesses who are invariably central to the local economy and will turn these law-abiding, tax paying economic units into potential criminals facing the extinguishing of their livelihood.

11. Other Tobacco Products must be excluded from this legislation to prevent the collateral damage by wiping out this unique industry. We must not "accidentally" destroy a market which employs so many, contributes so much, is a centre of excellence and is the envy of the world.

April 2024.


Prepared 2nd May 2024