Mark Yexley, Communications Director at JTI UK, explains how wholesalers can comply with the menthol ban.
How can retailers and wholesalers remain compliant to the menthol ban?
With the Menthol & Capsule Cigarette Ban now here, we are encouraging wholesalers and retailers to take note of the following to ensure they are best placed to navigate the legislation.
Understand the legislation. As with previous legislation such as Retail Display Ban, Plain Packaging and Track & Trace, those who prepared well are experiencing the least disruption to their business. Wholesalers and retailers should ensure that they and their staff are aware of the details surrounding the legislation and that they have a plan in place to remain compliant after the ban.
Communication is crucial as retailers and wholesalers will be asked questions about the legislation. Ensure staff are knowledgeable so that they can answer these questions with ease and confidence. JTI reps are in constant contact with their retailers via phone to advise on the legislation.
Thorough product knowledge is also key for wholesalers and retailers alike. Therefore, we recommend that they take the time to learn about which products are still available post 20th May and make the most of valuable resources such as JTI Advance and our dedicated Menthol Ban microsite – jtiadvance.co.uk/mentholban2020.
Do you think retailers/wholesalers and crucially their staff are educated enough about the menthol ban?
A survey carried out on JTI Advance earlier this year flagged that further education and support on the specifics of the legislation was still required. For instance, we found that almost a quarter of those surveyed did not know that capsule cigarettes will be banned and a further 50% were not aware of the penalties they could incur for non-compliance.
We’ve therefore been 100% committed to ensuring that our retail and wholesale partners are well informed and well educated about the changes – via our salesforce providing guidance and advice, our regularly updated menthol ban microsite – jtiadvance.co.uk/mentholban2020 – and through news articles and advertising in trade media. JTI Advance also acts as an invaluable tool and is available on mobile, tablet and desktop to suit the busy schedules of retailers and wholesalers.
Do you anticipate that retail staff will be able to proactively make suggestions to smokers e.g. have you considered Sterling Dual Capsule Leaf Wrapped cigarillos or have you considered vaping?
JTI expects most adult smokers to stay within the cigarette category and remain brand loyal. That’s why we have launched the New Dual range – a distinctive tobacco blend in a unique dual pack, with two sections of ten cigarettes, available across brands such as Sterling, Benson & Hedges and Sovereign.
Of course, others will make choices based on their preference and may seek alternatives. JTI is determined to provide those smokers with innovative new products that meet their needs. We recently launched Sterling Dual Capsule Leaf Wrapped cigarillos, which contain a peppermint capsule that smokers can click to release a menthol flavour.
On top of this, we have extended our Logic Compact vaping range to include nine menthol flavours and our Logic EPIQ e-liquids range to include Peppermint and Berry nicotine salts and Mint Royale High VG 70/30 e-liquids. Our Nordic Spirit tobacco-free nicotine pouches are also available in a fresh mint variant, providing even more choice.
With a raft of new products now available it’s important that retailers and wholesalers are aware of which products will be available in order to confidently make recommendations to customers. We’ve recently launched a training guide for our new SKU’s which staff can use to brush up on product knowledge whilst the JTI Menthol Ban microsite also features more information on which SKUs have transitioned since 20th May.
What sort of questions do you anticipate smokers will ask shop staff post Menthol Ban and do you think staff have the knowledge to answer?
As with any changes in legislation, we are of course anticipating existing adult smokers to have questions and retailers and shop staff will play a crucial role in ensuring customers stay informed. These will most likely include queries about how the ban will affect them, questions about why the ban is happening or whether they will still be able to buy their flavoured brand. No matter what the question, JTI are recommending that staff take the time to learn about the ban in order to successfully answer any questions that customers may have in the lead up to and post the ban coming into effect.
We recommend staff visit the FAQs section of our Menthol Ban microsite and point their customers in the direction of the consumer-facing pages it also contains, to find out more information.
Will price remain a key concern for smokers post-display ban?
Price will remain a key factor for existing adult smokers when choosing where to shop for tobacco. JTI recommends selling at RRP or below to maximise sales and avoid lost custom.” *Retailers and wholesalers are of course free to sell JTI products at whatever price they choose.
Can retailers still exchange menthol stock?
Following the implementation of the ban, JTI representatives can still exchange Menthol and Capsule stock held by every retailer who our sales reps visit as part of our standard 12-week call cycle. JTI will also take back all Menthol and Capsule stock held by every wholesaler and cash & carry post 20th May. Should your local JTI representative not be able to visit your store immediately following the Menthol & Capsule Ban on the 20th May 2020, please ensure that you keep the JTI Menthol and Capsule stock that need swapping separate from other stock.
For clarification, all retailers will need to supply their JTI rep with both Track & Trace ID codes. As soon as it is safe to do so, your JTI representative will begin visiting again, so please ensure stock has been separated in readiness for their visit. In the meantime, should you require assistance, please either contact your JTI representative by phone, visit our trade website JTI Advance or call the Customer Care Line on 0800 163503.
Do you anticipate illicit menthol cigarettes to enter the market after the display ban and how can retailers and wholesalers report anyone who is selling illicit tobacco?
We do have a concern that after the ban, some menthol and capsule smokers who can’t buy their usual brand through legal channels might be tempted to look for those products on the black market. We all need to work together to educate consumers of the dangers of illegal tobacco and I would encourage retailers and wholesalers to direct consumers to JTI’s Don’t Be Complicit In Illicit microsite www.jtiadvancve.co.uk/DontBeComplicit – where people can find more information and report any instances of illegal trading anonymously to Crimestoppers.