Cigarette manufacturers grant prohibited fees to tobacconists for good sales results, extra visibility and the promotion of their products. All ten tobacco cases that were investigated by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) had such agreements with manufacturers.
The NVWA encountered 69 agreements with nineteen manufacturers at the ten specialist tobacconists. It was about extra bonuses if the sales results were good, the products were given a good place on the shelves and promotional materials and promotional campaigns were used. The reimbursements varied from a few hundred to 3,000 euros per year.
Distributing bonuses and allowances to advertise tobacco products is forbidden in the Tobacco and Smoking Products Act. Because the manufacturers are seen as the instigator of the violation, they can count on fines from the NVWA ranging from 45,000 euros to 4.5 tonnes.
The advertising ban is part of the tobacco discouragement policy, because smoking is very harmful to health. That is why it is also forbidden to sell tobacco products to minors, so that they do not start smoking.
Four in ten sellers check age
Only four out of ten sellers actually check the age properly (with a valid proof of identity) and then refuse the sale, according to an NVWA survey at 516 tobacco outlets.
For this, the watchdog used seventeen-year-old test buyers for the first time. Supermarkets obeyed the rules best: 73 percent of underage cigarette buyers did not receive the product. In the hospitality industry and especially in cafeterias, it was easy for underage smokers to buy tobacco: in only 26 percent of the cases their purchase was refused.