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Albert Heijn and Other Supermarkets in the Netherlands to Stop Selling Tobacco Products in Effort to Create Healthier Society


NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:21

  • Nik Wouters

    editor Economics

  • Nik Wouters

    editor Economics

As of today, cigarettes and other smoking products will no longer be on the shelves of hundreds of Albert Heijn stores. The retail chain will stop selling tobacco at most locations.

Albert Heijn follows supermarket chain Lidl, which stopped selling tobacco two years ago. They are therefore anticipating July 1. From that date, supermarkets are no longer allowed to sell tobacco products at all.

While supermarkets are removing cigarettes from their stores, sellers of electric cigarettes are putting them on their shelves. Because these so-called vape shops are no longer allowed to sell flavors for e-cigarettes from today, a large part of their business will disappear. To compensate for this, some retailers are now starting to sell classic cigarettes again.

‘Selling tobacco is a big step’

According to Emil ‘t Hart, chairman of the trade association for sellers of electronic cigarettes, the sale of these cigarettes actually goes against its own principles. “Tobacco is exactly what many entrepreneurs have been fighting against. By selling e-cigarettes they want to help people stop smoking.”

Monique Kant from E-cig4u in Woudrichem now also has classic tobacco in her range. “With pain in my heart,” she says. “We now hope that customers who come to the store for cigarettes will also see that there is an alternative with the e-cigarette.”

In the last days of the year, she saw many visitors to her store who came to stock up on flavors for e-cigarettes. “It is clear that there is hoarding. People sometimes come to get 300 pieces at a time,” she says this morning in the NOS Radio 1 News.

Several supermarkets are quitting tobacco on their own initiative

The ban on the sale of cigarettes in supermarkets will come into effect on July 1, 2024. Supermarkets control around 40 percent of all tobacco sales points and 55 percent of all turnover.

Albert Heijn is now bringing forward that date in the majority of its stores to “help contribute to a healthier society”. Only some franchise stores and AH to go stores in gas stations may still have cigarettes for sale in the coming months.

Supermarket chain Lidl stopped selling tobacco two years ago. Several Jumbo stores also removed tobacco from the shelves earlier on their own initiative. Jumbo says that this policy will not be implemented supermarket-wide. Plus and Aldi will also not stop selling tobacco until mid-July.

There are approximately 1,465 specialty tobacco stores in the Netherlands, according to figures from the Chamber of Commerce. That is about the same as ten years ago.

The trade association for sellers of electronic cigarettes estimates that dozens of shops will make the move to sell cigarettes. The entrepreneurs expect that tobacco sales will only increase further if more and more supermarkets stop selling.

“We are going to see a huge shift,” said Abe Brandsma, spokesperson for tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris. Supermarkets sold more than half of all cigarettes in recent years. It is estimated that the turnover is more than 2.5 billion euros.

‘Extremely immoral’

Esther Croes, physician-epidemiologist at Trimbos, thinks that the supermarket ban will have an effect. “If tobacco is sold where you buy your daily needs, smoking becomes normalized. Then it’s like cigarettes are part of it.” It is also difficult for smokers who want to quit if they walk past cigarettes every time they go shopping, says Croes.

She calls it “extremely immoral” that e-cigarette sellers are now putting traditional cigarettes in stores. “They claim they sell e-cigarettes to smokers to help them quit,” says Croes. “But now they are going to sell tobacco to keep their market share. I really have no words for that.”

Philip Morris sees this differently. “We think it is generally positive that sales go through specialty tobacco stores. There, customers can be better informed about less harmful alternatives to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco,” said the spokesperson for the cigarette manufacturer.

2024-01-01 09:21:26
#Albert #Heijn #tobacco #shelves #vape #shops #opportunity

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