No smoke without ire - retailers' anger over ban

12 December, 2008

The trade has reacted with anger and disbelief to the

announcement that tobacco displays in shops are to be banned.

The government has said large shops will have to move cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products from display in 2011, while smaller shops will have until 2013. The move aims to stop people starting smoking when they are young.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: "Enticing multi-coloured displays encourage young people to start smoking - we must put a stop to this. Smoking is a habit which is hard to break and causes 87,000 deaths a year in England alone."

The Department of Health said

countries such as Canada, which have already banned point-of-sale tobacco displays, have found no evidence that shops have had to close as a result.

Retailers have warned

they will lose more than just tobacco sales , as cigarette shoppers often buy other products as well. Neil Tyler, of D'beers in Sheffield, said: "I haven't got any room for them anywhere else and I think lots of people will be in the same boat."

Ian Gibson, of Alder Road Off-licence in Poole, Dorset, said: "It's totally bonkers - they'll have to change the law. You have to display what you're selling and how much it is so I am not sure how they are going to get around that."

Bargain Booze joint managing director Matthew Hughes raised fears

the move could be a precedent for banning

display of other legal products. "It is yet another unfair, anti-competitive advertising ban," he said. "I hope

nobody views it as

a one-solution-fits-all kind of scenario."

Retail bodies have estimated

it will cost shops £2,000-£5,000 to implement the ban,

with

smaller shops

hit hardest.

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association said

credible evidence is lacking that a display ban will reduce smoking. Chief executive Chris Ogden said: "It hasn't worked in other countries and it won't work here. A ban on the display of products will also blur the distinction between the legal and illegal market by virtue of it all being 'out of sight' and will play into the hands of criminals trying to infiltrate the retail network."




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