ACS calls for end to tobacco display ban

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ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has written to new business secretary Vince Cable urging an urgent review of planned restrictions on tobacco display and outlining important new evidence.

The call comes as the Department for Business laid out ambitious plans to review and revoke any regulations in the pipeline inherited from the previous Government.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Reducing the red tape burden on business is the right priority for Government, and we welcome the new structures set up to challenge existing and planned business burdens. However, they must be prepared to go into politically controversial areas and take an objective look at the evidence. A willingness to review measures like the tobacco display ban would be a striking signal of intent.”

ACS makes this call as important new evidence emerged that cast further doubt on the effectiveness of the measure:

  • Government justified the ban to Parliament arguing that it has had a positive effect on reducing smoking take up in Canada where a ban is established. New statistics published by Health Canada show that smoking amongst young people has in fact increased from 11% to 13% amongst 15 to 17 year olds since 2006-07
  • Irish smoking prevalence is also on the increase one year after the ban was brought in, total smokers in the population in Ireland has increased from 24 to 31% from 20017 to 2010
  • A recent survey of UK public opinion found that only 15% would oppose abandoning the display ban in the UK, 31% support abandoning the plans and 51% have no opinion

Lowman continued: “The main justification for the tobacco display ban was that it has been proven to reduce youth smoking in jurisdictions like Canada, but the most recent figures from Canadian Health authorities show that the display ban is having no effect on smoking behaviour among young people. It suggests that Government must look at other measures that will bear down on smoking attitudes among young people.

“Given the clear independent evidence that a display ban is not working it is a prime candidate for review. Action to remove this planned burden would save the industry in excess of £66 million pounds and send a clear signal that this Government is serious about reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens.”