Agenda item

Proposal from Greater Manchester to Introduce a Tobacco Retailer & Wholesaler Licensing System

Report of the Service Director, Communities and Environment


The Committee received a report on a proposal from Greater Manchester to introduce a tobacco retailer and wholesaler licensing system.  The proposal provides partners outside Greater Manchester with an opportunity to consider their interest in pursuing this agenda as part of comprehensive approaches to local tobacco control.


The Greater Manchester “Making Smoking History” strategy identifies addressing tobacco licensing as a key issue for Greater Manchester wide action.  The strategy also flags extending smoke free spaces as another potential area for regulatory change. 


The regulatory framework relating to tobacco has changed significantly over the past decade.  The promotion of tobacco via mainstream marketing, advertising and sponsorship is now gone; 2007 saw the ground-breaking ‘smokefree’ law come into force; age of sale has increased to 18; vending machines have been removed; tobacco is now sold in standardised packs; cars carrying under 18s should now be smokefree.


What has not changed is the ability for local authorities in England to monitor, control and sanction the sale of tobacco in their communities.  This is seen as putting England at odds with other UK jurisdictions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where tobacco retailer registration schemes are in place.


A public engagement conducted during February – April 2018 demonstrated strong backing for the Greater Manchester “Making Smoking History” strategy, including extending smoke free spaces and a tobacco retailer licensing scheme in Greater Manchester, with some 81% supporting the proposal.  This confirms previously high levels of support for these measures in other national surveys.


A workshop conducted with senior regulatory services officers and partners from Greater Manchester Police and HMRC indicated a strong appetite to scope potential licensing legislation.


A review by the legal services at Manchester City Council, with legal support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been carried out to (a) explore whether existing powers could enable the Combined Authority, and/or the 10 local authorities introduce a licensing scheme(s) and extend smokefree spaces; or (b) other legislative vehicles such as byelaws or a local Act of Parliament would be required.


The review concluded that it would not be possible to make existing powers such as those in operation in Scotland and Wales to become a legal function of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority or any Greater Manchester Authority.  Under section 239 of the Local Government Act 1972, the combined authority or one individual local authority on behalf of the 10 could however promote a local Act of Parliament.  The Greater Manchester Leadership Team has agreed a lead local authority route.  Manchester City Council will lead the process for Greater Manchester localities.  This process is independently open to any local authority.


The process for achieving the implementation of the Act is complex.  The plan of Greater Manchester is to table a Bill in November 2019.  The draft Bill was expected to be available in January 2019 and will be subject to a regulatory impact assessment and consultation process.


There is scope for localities outside of Greater Manchester to work alongside them to pursue similar Bills just as Liverpool, London and Merseyside all took forward independent and identical smokefree Private Bills in November 2004 and 2005.  Any locality engaging in the same process could pursue only the licensing element of the legislation should they so wish.  Costs and risks could be shared appropriately.


It was noted that if this something local authorities in the region were to wish to pursue it would have to go to the respective leadership meetings.


RESOLVED -              That the information contained within the report be noted.  

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