How UK Regulations Affect Buying Cigarettes Online
Planning on buying cigarettes online in the UK? Click here to make sure you understand all the rules and regulations before you checkout.
With new cigarette laws being debuted in the UK, there's a lot of talk going around on how the tobacco industry will be changed.
These laws have put the mainstream tobacco industry in a panic. Rightfully so -- the number of smokers in the UK has been dropping year after year, hitting an all-time low in 2016. These new laws will create more trouble for stores trying to sell cigarettes and for the companies that manufacture those cigarettes.
But all of this is about physical, brick-and-mortar stores. What about for people who are buying cigarettes online? We want to answer your questions about the online tobacco market and just how these new regulations will affect buyers.
That's why we compiled this quick guide to the new laws and how they'll change the online cigarette market. Let's talk about how the new UK regulations will affect buying cigarettes online.
Wait, New Regulations?
Starting in May, the UK revealed new laws that affected packaging and sales for tobacco companies.
While some may say that these laws are penalizing tobacco companies, the intent of the new laws is to decrease smoking-related deaths. The laws also aim to prevent young people from beginning smoking.
Here's a quick explanation of the laws.
As per the new laws, the smallest size cigarette package that may be sold in stores is 20 cigarettes. This is up from the previous smaller size of 10 cigarettes. Soon, stores will be completely unable to sell these smaller packs at all.
In addition, loose tobacco is being restricted, now only sold in a larger 30g size (up from 10g and 20g packs).
New packaging rules
The restricted sizing rules exist to accommodate the new rules for packaging.
The new rules state that cigarette packs need to be at least 65% covered in warnings and graphic images of the dangers and effects of cigarette smoking. The brand names are in a much smaller print below these warnings. The color of packages will be standardized, now in a color called "opaque couche," or the "world's ugliest color."
Bans on certain types of cigarettes
While some cigarettes are being repackaged and rebranded, some kinds of tobacco are being outright banned.
Menthol cigarettes aren't being banned, but are planned to be gradually banned from sale by the year 2020. In terms of outright bans, tons of flavored tobaccos are being banned, as well as skinnier varieties of cigarettes as well.
Banning certain wordings
There are certain vocabulary words used on cigarettes now deemed misleading that can no longer be printed on cigarettes.
This includes words like "light" or "lite," "organic," and "natural." Lawmakers argue that these words are misleading to young people, making them think that these cigarettes actually aren't harmful or are in some way good for you.
As a last part of the new regulations, there are certain limits placed on e-cigarettes and vapes. Tank sizes are regulated, they require certain licensing for certain sizes, and advertisement of the products is highly limited and sometimes completely banned.
These laws are sweeping and will certainly shake up the tobacco industry as a whole. It remains to be seen whether or not other countries will follow suit.
You might be thinking, "ok, I can't buy the same types of cigarettes in stores. But what about buying cigarettes online?"
How Regulations Affect Buying Cigarettes Online
The good news for online cigarette buyers is that these restrictions won't entirely ruin buying from duty-free websites. In fact, some of the legislation doesn't even touch buying cigarettes online.
However, there will likely be some changes in the way websites do things. Let's take a look at the possible changes.
Keep in mind: these are only predictions. It's difficult to foresee exactly how tobacco companies and websites will change their ways.
Less product variety
Obviously, with the bans on smaller packages, the variety of products becomes restricted. Online cigarette buyers can no longer purchase 10 packs, though this might not be a problem considering online buyers often buy in bulk.
If you were buying cigarettes online in small amounts, you might be affected by these regulations.
Less appealing packaging
With the new packaging laws, there's no longer any allure to buying certain brands. This can affect brand loyalty and identity, so if you were used to a certain type of packaging you may have to reckon with ugly green packaging.
This is possibly the biggest effect on buying cigarettes online: fewer sales.
Due to the increased prices on the smallest amount of cigarettes and tobacco, low-income and young buyers may be influenced not to buy cigarettes. While online buying can sometimes circumvent pricing, this will likely change the online buying environment.
Crackdown on websites
Some websites might close altogether as well.
While it's more difficult to get around these laws as a brick-and-mortar store, it's a little easier for websites to skirt the edges. However, lawmakers have indicated that they are cracking down on offenders. Some more illicit websites may see their doors close, which means buying cigarettes online might become tougher and more expensive.
The future: black market cigarettes
As corner store cigarette buying becomes more expensive, there may be the unfortunate side effect of "black market" cigarette stores.
This makes buying cigarettes online considerably more dangerous, given that it could be illegal based on what product is received. Buyers will have to be very cautious with who and where they buy their cigarettes from in order to protect themselves.
Possible rise in fake tobacco
With the crackdown on tobacco comes the ability for criminals to create fake tobacco products to sell to younger audiences. This is a legitimate and somewhat terrifying concern. Buyers, make sure you're only buying from legitimate, verified websites.
The UK regulations are fairly new, so it's somewhat unseen how this will change buying cigarettes online.
Make sure you're always buying from legitimate sources -- don't be taken for a fool and put your life at risk. Contact us if you have any questions about legitimacy.