Tobacco displays to be banned in England from 2012

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Tobacco display ban to hit England from 201

Tobacco display ban to hit England from 201

Tobacco displays will be banned in England from 2012 in large stores and 2015 in smaller shops in a bid to drive down smoking.

The Government has delayed the implementation of the ban, which was due to commence in October 2011 in large stores and October 2013 in smaller stores.

However, its tobacco control strategy, published today, includes the launch of a consultation on whether plain packing of tobacco products will be introduced to help reduce the numbers of young smokers.

Its Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England sets out national ambitions:

  • to reduce adult (aged 18 or over) smoking in England to 18.5% or less by the end of 2015 (from 21.2%), meaning around 210,000 fewer smokers a year
  • to reduce rates of regular smoking among 15-year olds in England to 12% or less (from 15%) by the end of 2015
  • to reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy to 11% or less (from 14%) by the end of 2015 (measured at time of giving birth)

Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA), welcomed the delay in the display ban implementation but said: “There is no credible evidence to support the stated public health objective restricting tobacco displays will reduce youth smoking levels.

“The TMA shares the Government’s view minors should not smoke and they should not have access to tobacco products. Proof of age schemes and rigorous enforcement of laws on under-age sales are more effective solutions to the issue of preventing youth access to tobacco and the TMA is fully committed to supporting these activities.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman, agreed: “We are disappointed Government are pressing ahead with a tobacco display ban imposing £40m of costs on small retailers. There simply isn’t the evidence to suggest the measure will reduce smoking amongst young people,” he said.

Ogden said the TMA opposed plans for plain packaging. “We do not believe any plans for plain packaging are based on sound public policy, nor any compelling evidence,” he said. “Moves to prevent tobacco companies from exercising their intellectual property rights would place the Government in breach of legal obligations relating to intellectual property, international trade and European law.

“Plain packs are also likely to lead to yet further increases in the smuggling of tobacco products and plain packs would make it so much easier for a counterfeiter to copy than existing branded packs making it even more difficult for a consumer to differentiate between genuine and counterfeit products.”

The amended regulations mean:

  • The display of tobacco products in shops will end. Tobacco products will need to be out of sight in shops, except for temporary displays in certain limited circumstances;
  • Shopkeepers will have greater flexibility so that they can more easily carry out the day to day running of their businesses without breaching the law – for example, being able to undertake stock-taking or maintenance work while there are customers in the shop;
  • The size of the display allowed while serving customers or carrying out the other authorised activities will increase from 0.75 to 1.5sq m; and
  • Retailers will have additional time to prepare – particularly small shops. The regulations will commence on 6 April 2012 for large stores and 6 April 2015 for all other shops