A VENDING machine business today slammed a decision to go ahead with a ban on the sale of cigarettes in pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Rod Bullough, the director of Duckworth’s Vending Machines on Clifton Road, Blackpool, says the industry was never consulted by the Government on the original decision to outlaw machines from licensed establishments.
Mr Bullough, who was speaking to The Gazette after Imperial Tobacco failed in its appeal to reinstate the machines, says he will support the tobacco giant’s decision to appeal again.
He told The Gazette: “The problem is the Government has never understood it is destroying an industry.
“How can a legitimate business which employs people be banned without any compensation whatsoever?
“There are systems in place to ensure underage smokers can’t use vending machines and we feel totally let down by the Government of our country.”
The judges’ decision upholds a ruling by the High Court last December which will see all cigarette machines taken out of pubs, clubs and restaurants by October.
Mr Bullough, who has a workforce of 30, has already had to make half of his staff redundant since the smoking ban came into effect.
He is now calling for the Government to pay for the vending machines, which make up 0.8 per cent of all cigarette sales in the UK.
He added: “If this is Government policy and they want to ban vending machines, they should pay the people who own the vending machines for what they are worth.
“We have invested a lifetime in this and now they want to ban it.
“It’s totally unreasonable.”
Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, has met with Mr Bullough to discuss the decision and says he would be happy to meet with him again.
Mr Maynard said: “I have deep sympathy with Mr Bullough and Duckworth’s.
“I have met with the company and have made representations to the Government on his behalf.
“With the new technology available, where a human being in a bar has to ‘authorise’ the sale, this should have negated the worry over underage sales.
“I feel that we must balance freedom of choice with the fact that smoking does harm and kill.
“However, in this case I feel the Government has not taken on board the evidence, the technology and has not looked at the consequences this change in the law has to businesses and individuals involved in the manufacture of these machines.
“I am very happy to meet again with Mr. Bullough and also to speak to ministers to look at ways they can help the business adapt or access an export market.”