Webshops and supermarkets are opening new tobacco shops

In 2021, the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority registered 56 new registrations of tobacco specialists. Webshops are opening physical stores in anticipation of the ban on online sales of tobacco products and supermarket entrepreneurs are equipping themselves with separate tobacco shops against the ban on tobacco sales in supermarkets in 2024. The number of outlets will thus not decrease.

By the web editor

The online store Roken.nl opened a second physical store earlier this month. The company added a branch in Groningen at Akerkhof to the store in Emmen, which has been in existence since 2018, the company said. Nordens Avis. Online, the company offers all types of smoking products and smoking accessories, including nicotine patches and chewing gum to help smokers quit. But the emphasis in the offer is on e-cigarettes under the motto ‘Stop smoking, start vaping’.

It is striking that the e-cigarette seller is now investing in a physical store. In one year, from 1 July 2023, online sales of tobacco and smoking products will be prohibited. A physical store is then the only chance of survival for an online store like Roken.nl. However, from 1 January 2023 the flavorings in e-cigarettes will also be banned. The new store in Groningen, which is registered as a tobacco specialist, can then only offer tobacco and e-cigarettes with a tobacco flavor. Then sell cigarettes, that seems to be the motto, although the online store still harbors some hope: on the site, it encourages its customers to object to the online sales ban via the internet consultation that runs until the end of this week.

Supermarkets open separate tobacco shops

Online stores are not the only ones preparing for upcoming legislative changes. Supermarkets also know they will lose tobacco sales in 2024. In January we already reported on a Plus supermarket in Eibergen opening a separate tobacco shop across the street in anticipation of the ban. In April, the trade journal came out Distrifood take a look and found a proud entrepreneur who states: “It is the only tobacco specialty shop in Eibergen. I’m also ahead of any competition with this.” The store has a wide selection of cigarettes for luxury cigars that can now be widely displayed, unlike in the supermarket across the street. Meanwhile, cigarettes are still sold in the supermarkets: “It has we lowered it to one metre. For something special, you have to go to the other side,’ says the shop owner.

Tobacco is a hot topic at Plus

The Plus chain appears to be leading the way in opening separate tobacco shops. In it food magazine Robina Bos told in May how she took over the Plus supermarket in Bussum from her parents and not only renovated the supermarket, but immediately opened a tobacco specialist on the other side of the street under the name Spot. In order to be able to take over the store, Bos first had to follow the Plus Aspirant course, where, according to the newspaper, the subject of tobacco was discussed in depth. Bos: “We talked a lot about it, and I also talked about it with my parents. A large part of our customers buy tobacco, and we are also located in a closed neighborhood in Naarden. Then it is all the more important to have all the facilities at home. To respond to these legislative changes, we bought a building across the street from the store and turned it into a tobacco specialist.”

Bos says that the supermarket’s service desk has also moved to the other side, including a PostNL point. It seems to be against the rules for a tobacco specialist, where apart from tobacco only lottery tickets and newspapers may be sold.

‘I am neither hot nor cold from the tobacco ban’

A supermarket owner in Kampen also opened a Primera store opposite his CoopCompact in connection with the upcoming ban on tobacco sales in the supermarket. Coop recently merged with Plus. He already bought the property in 2019, the entrepreneur said Distrifood. When it became vacant in 2021, he decided to open a Primera store there. “I then set about investigating whether it was possible to start a Primera here, with tobacco legislation in mind,” says the owner. “I no longer get hot or cold from the tobacco ban. If we no longer sell tobacco products in the supermarket, customers will have no reason to leave the neighbourhood. With that, I also expect to keep them for the supermarket.” And if grocery stores are no longer allowed to sell tobacco after 2030, “I can make it a tobacco specialist.”

E-cigarettes and tobacco

In Schiedam, the young Polish entrepreneur Martyna Biesek (19) saw bread in her own tobacco shop, where she The Schiedammer Online also want to start a DHL parcel point. She already has a sort of mailbox in the business, while the smoking products are displayed in plain view, which is against the law.

And owner Marco Engel had his Esmoker store in Tilburg renovated. His goal is to help smokers get rid of tobacco cigarettes, but in the renovated shop he now also sells tobacco. “Of course, it feels contradictory. But on the other hand, it provides opportunities. I hope that I can ensure that people who come to us to buy tobacco are ultimately open to smoke-free alternatives. Now, by approaching to these customers, I can persuade them to try a smoke-free alternative. I didn’t reach these people at first,” he says on a local news site.

Shops are also disappearing

Tobacco shops are disappearing for various reasons, for example in Apeldoorn, Oisterwijk and Den Helder. When asked, the Chamber of Commerce does not yet see a tendency to increase or decrease the number of shops selling tobacco products. The figures fluctuate greatly over time, so the commercial register does not see any development in one direction or the other between 2013 and now. In the sector Retail – ‘Shops in tobacco products’, a total of 13 shops were added in 2021 (from 1,030 on 1 January 2021 to 1,043 on 1 January 2022.

NVWA registers 56 new registrations

However, the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA) saw a major increase in the number of specialist tobacco shops registered with the enforcement service in 2021. Tobacco specialists who wish to claim an exemption from the ban on the display of tobacco products must register with the NVWA. There are two categories for this. The first category consists of shops that only sell smoking products, lottery tickets and/or newspapers. New entries are possible in this category. The second category concerns stores that registered before 2019 and whose annual turnover is a maximum of €700,000, of which at least 75 percent comes from smoking products. There are no new entries in this category.

In 2021, 56 specialty tobacco shops were registered in Category 1, according to the NVWA’s 2021 Display Ban Inspection Report. At the same time, 34 registrations were withdrawn. In 8 cases, this was because an inspection revealed that the stores did not meet the registration requirements “because other goods such as food, postcards, toy cards were sold, or because the store acted as a parcel point.” At the end of 2021, 158 specialty tobacco shops were registered against 136 at the beginning of the year, i.e. a total of 22 more.

In category 2, the number of registrations fell. The NVWA writes about this: “Before, after we announced that an inspection would be carried out and during the inspection campaign, 40 shops withdrew their registration because they could not meet the requirements.” A canceled registration means that a shop is no longer entitled to the exception from the display ban. But that doesn’t mean these stores don’t sell tobacco anymore.

A third of the shops violate the display ban

In 2021, the NVWA checked a total of 112 cases to see if they met the conditions for the exemption from the display ban, and found that they did not in just under a third of the cases. The conclusion is therefore that, although the numbers may not be large yet, the number of tobacco retailers seems to be increasing, while a third are not particularly strict on the rules. Once again, it seems that the Netherlands needs a licensing system for tobacco sellers to effectively curb the sale of smoking products.

Retailers cheat with new advertising rules

Since 1 July, NVWA has a new control task, namely to see if tobacco shops comply with the stricter advertising ban. This means that advertising is no longer allowed on the facade and in the shop window, and that shops that have an exception to the display ban must ensure that the smoking products on display in the shop are not visible from the street.

Entrepreneurs are now looking at how far they can stretch those rules. In Helmond, the owner of a tobacco shop found a quick solution to the fact that the word tobacco is three times too much on the facade of her shop. “I took three felt-tip pens and put lines under the tobacco T, where it now says iabak,” she told the newspaper. Eindhovens Dagblad.

In Groningen, above the door of the new Roken.nl store, ‘tobacco specialty store’ is written across the width in large letters, and below that the company name in a striking red color with even larger neon letters. This seems to be contrary to the provision on this, which is explained on the NVWA website: “These indications (tobacco specialty shop or tobacco) must not be too conspicuous. They must not lead to advertising for tobacco or related products. In that case, the designation is seen as advertising. For example, don’t use big neon letters.”

tags: tobacconist | tobacco regulation | internet consultation | licensing system | online sales | nvwa | tobacco sales | curtailment of business

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