FWD campaigning on alcohol and tobacco

Francis Ball was re-elected chairman of the FWD at last week’s annual general meeting. Afterwards, opening the annual conference, Ball said: “I can report to you that your federation is in fine fettle. It is achieving positive results for the membership and is in a sound financial state.”

Ball said the FWD had focused recently on its final submissions to the Competition Commission, which is expected to report at the end of the month, and on several alcohol-related issues.

He said: “In February, FWD lobbied the Prime Minister asking him to help the trade to implement a voluntary code to halt the below-cost selling of alcohol to consumers through all trade channels – retail, wholesale and the on-trade. We believe that such a voluntary code would be one easy way to stem a large part of the binge-drinking problem.

“We also asked the Prime Minister to consider additional measures to curb duty fraud on alcohol. What we are asking the government to do is to raise the requirements for wholesale licensing so that it can be carefully monitored. Licenses could be issued to wholesalers, but more importantly, they could be taken away from rogue operators.”

He added: “Another contentious issue that developed over Easter is the Government’s possible ban on cigarettes on display in retail. While we understand the health issues, tobacco is still a legal product. Further legislation on tobacco is inevitable, but FWD will oppose any such measures that threaten the viability of the independent retail trade that we serve.”

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