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UNITED KINGDOM

Gift cards will be valid for tobacco products

20 Jun 2022. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards for residents on low incomes will be able to be spent on cigarettes and other tobacco products as a ban is not possible, reports the Glasgow Times.

The Scottish Government is giving out gift cards worth GBP 105 to around 84,500 households that qualify for council tax reduction. The cards can be used at hundreds of shops and after initially planning to exclude the purchase of tobacco products, officials have now said this would not be possible.

“As most food retailers also sell tobacco, the intended benefits of the scheme would not be deliverable if these businesses were excluded,” a report said.

According to the Glasgow Times, council staff will work with Scotland’s Towns Partnership to ensure “messaging to participating businesses is done in a way that discourages the spending of gift cards on tobacco”.

Glasgow’s Conservative group pushed for people not being able to use the cards on tobacco or on alcohol. At the time, council leader Susan Aitken said that: “It would be my view that if someone wants to go for a meal in a local restaurant they should be able to buy a beer or share a bottle of wine. But tobacco is different. As a country we have made a decision that we significantly restrict people’s access to tobacco whether through the smoking ban or advertising restrictions and display.”

Labour councillor Malcolm Cunning called the move “paternalism in the extreme” and said: “we can’t trust the poor to spend their own money without putting restrictions on them that they are not allowed to by a packet of rolling tobacco.”