Utrecht won't allow any new tobacconists ahead of supermarket cigarette sales ban
The municipality of Utrecht will not allow any new tobacconist shops to open in the city for at least a year. The city worries that the upcoming ban on supermarkets selling cigarettes, which takes effect 1 July 2024, will lead to an influx of tobacconists, alderman Eelco Erenberg (Public Health) said.
According to Erenberg, the ban on the sale of tobacco in supermarkets prohibits shop-in-shop constructions where part of the supermarket is set up as a tobacconist that is accessible from the supermarket. But supermarkets can simply split off their tobacco department with a separate entrance and keep selling tobacco. The city’s plan not to allow new tobacconists should also prevent this.
“With the national ban on supermarket sales approaching, we foresee that the market will shift: that entrepreneurs will look for solutions to still be able to sell tobacco after July 2024,” Erenberg said. The municipality does not have many options to intervene. So the Utrecht city council took a preparatory decision to freeze the current situation for the entire city from a planning point of view. In concrete terms, it means no new tobacconist shops can open during the period of the preparatory decision - one year.
“In Utrecht, we have now taken a big step towards a smoke-free generation in 2035. I am happy about that. But the fact is that Dutch municipalities, within the framework of the Tobacco and Smoking Products Act, currently have no legal options to limit the number of tobacco businesses. From a public health point of view - and given our ambitions - that is worrying,” Erenberg said.
He urged State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen of Public Health to adopt a motion passed by parliament to give municipalities more power to bar new tobacco shops.