Tobacco display ban 'to curb young smokers'

Cigarettes on display The display ban is only coming into force in large shops and supermarkets this year

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A ban on tobacco displays is coming into force in England - with ministers promising it will help curb the number of young people taking up smoking.

Cigarettes and other products will have to be kept below the counter in large shops and supermarkets, while small outlets are exempt until 2015.

Other parts of the UK are planning similar action to drive down smoking rates.

Critics say the ban is discriminatory and will not discourage young smokers.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the BBC he hoped the ban would prevent people from taking up smoking and also help those trying to give up.

Start Quote

I hope we can make a big difference”

End Quote Andrew Lansley Health Secretary

He said: "Firstly, it reduces the visibility of tobacco and smoking to young people. And, of course two-thirds of smokers started smoking before they were eighteen.

"So, if we can, literally, arrive at a place where young people just don't think about smoking and they don't see tobacco and they don't see cigarettes - then I hope we can make a big difference."

He said the government recognised the pressures on retailers to comply with the ban but added: "We want to arrive at a place where we no longer see smoking as a normal part of life. We're doing it by stages with constant active pressure."

'Colourful displays'

A fifth of adults smoke - a figure which has remained steady in recent years after decades of rapid falls.

A plan to force manufacturers to put cigarettes into plain packets is also expected to be put out to consultation later this year.

The display ban will apply to shops of more than 280 sq m (3,014 sq ft).

Start Quote

It's essential that we create a culture that promotes and protects public health and tobacco legislation is a significant factor in making this happen”

End Quote Jo Butcher National Children's Bureau

Public health minister Anne Milton cited evidence from Ireland which suggested the measure could play an important role in discouraging young people in particular from smoking.

"We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by colourful, eye-catching, cigarette displays.

"Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and we need to stop this trend."

Jo Butcher, of the National Children's Bureau, agreed: "It's essential that we create a culture that promotes and protects public health and tobacco legislation is a significant factor in making this happen."

Jean King, of charity Cancer Research UK, said the ban would help stop children who are attracted to brightly coloured tobacco packaging from taking up smoking but further action was still needed.

"Of course we want to see the pack branding taken away as well. This is not a normal consumer product, it kills people. We want to protect the next generation of children," she said.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley: "We want to arrive at a place where we no longer see smoking as a normal part of life"

However, the move has upset the tobacco industry.

Moves by Scotland to introduce such a ban have been delayed by legal action taken by Imperial Tobacco.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for British American Tobacco said: "We do not believe that hiding products under the counter or behind curtains or screens will discourage people, including the young, from taking up smoking.

"There's no sound evidence to prove display bans are justified."

He added if anything it could encourage the illicit trade of tobacco products.

'Social lepers'

Andrew Opie, from the British Retail Consortium, said it was wrong to believe the legislation would have a major effect on young people and it was supermarkets and other shops which were bearing the brunt of the costs needed to comply with the ban.

He said the organisation had calculated that it cost more than £15m to ensure everything was sorted out before the ban came into place.

He said: "Children are more likely to smoke when they're in a household where parents smoke and also they tend to get their cigarettes from either parents, or older peers, not directly from supermarkets.

Start Quote

The idea of the anti-smoker groups is to denormalise us and to turn us into social lepers”

End Quote David Atherton Freedom to Choose

"It's certainly caused a lot of disruption to retailers as they didn't actually get that much notice to comply - and if you think that this is 6,000 shops in England, there are only so many shop-fitters that can do the work."

David Atherton from the pro-smoking Freedom to Choose pressure group told BBC Radio 5 live he believed the state should not interfere with people's personal habits and added: "The idea of the anti-smoker groups is to denormalise us and to turn us into social lepers."

The display ban was announced by the government last year as part of its tobacco control strategy.

Although the legislation allowing it to happen was actually put in place by the Labour government before it lost power in 2010.

A number of countries, including Canada, Ireland, Iceland and Finland, have already introduced similar bans.

Prof David Hammond from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, said the ban led to a decline in smoking - especially among the young - in Canada.

"The declines were greatest in the provinces where the ban had been implemented the longest. And that's consistent with the idea that when you remove something like marketing, it takes some time for the residual marketing to wear out."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    The vast majority of tobacco displays are located near the point at which you pay. Its not just for security. It's a very deliberate tactic that's intended to make cigarettes an impulse purchase. Remember all the sweets that used to be around the supermarket checkouts? Anyone familiar with the principals of visual management would recognise of the power of visual stimuli on people's behaviour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    The cigarette display in my local shop is now covered up.

    So what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Hummm seems my comment 206 must have struck a chord of pain with someone judging by the negative votes maybe it's the TAX FIDDLING targets

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    I'm an ex-smoker who would like to see fewer kids getting hooked on the evil weed. HOWEVER, this has got to be one of the most stupid laws ever thought of. My local ASDA has a Cigarette Kiosk with the fags hidden, BUT with a massive sign saying "Cigarettes" - really, which idiot came up with moronic law?

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    You can argue about the effectiveness and motives behind some of the
    individual governmental legislation on smoking. But the fact remains smoking is on the decrease, so some of the measures are having the desired impact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    It's not just the product that is hidden, it is also the price tags. Most people will buy other items at the checkout at the same time and would probably not notice the prices creeping up. Forgive me for being synical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Ban it completely. Alcohol too. Just like class A drugs. The prison population would drop by about 75% and the UK would be a much happier place.
    "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" John 10.10

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Yet another Labour policy that has been implemented by the Coalition government.

    If you stand them side by side you couldn't get a cigarette paper between them in terms of how they govern this country.

    Time for a change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Any health care that I may need is not FREE I have already paid for it through taxes VAT and duty on anything and everything I buy or do, No such thing as free medical care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    227. Sheb76

    Yes it was a proper moronic comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    The governments policy on smoking is ill thought out. All it is doing is lining criminals pockets and doing the UK out of tax. It is a recognized additiction, you do not end an addiction simply because you have priced the user our of the product. All you will do is bankrupt that person, and he still has his addiction to face. I buy all cigarettes overseas now, screw UK stealth taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Why not raise the tax so high as to make smoking unaffordable to most normal people?[could it be that the government makes so imuch that it pays them to increase duty in small steps so people will continue to smoke?] Am I being cynical??

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I'm not sure the Government really want to curb smoking. The tax and pension implications are too big to ignore

    And as the smoking rate decreases, the tax increases

    The government is clever, pandering to a weird middle class group of do-gooders without ever actually making cigarettes an illegal purchase

    ...and the longer they can be strung along the longer it takes for them to move elsewhere

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.


    Great idea! Shall we do the same for obese people who continue eating? People who crash into trees after insisting on skiing? People who get hit by cars because they insist on crossing the road? Soldiers who get wounded in battle? They all know the risks!

    Moronic. I expect you'd also like the women who had dodgy breast implants to be left to get on with it themselves, too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I now smoke VIP e-cigarettes, I find them just as good, if not MORE enjoyable to smoke than real cigarettes! Also, they are a LOT cheaper, it only costs me £6 a week to smoke now! Plus I now derive great pleasure in the fact that it's like a '2-fingers-sign' to the government as they are now losing £40 a week in TAX from me & the nutty anti-smokers can go pick on some other poor sod! lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Not only is this ban a token gesture on the part of a government which knows the value of tobacco tax revenue, but it is also the kind of woolly thinking that, once again, demonstrates to the electorate that politicians of all parties are completely out of touch with reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    Is anybody in government living in the real world?!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    You have to ask why shops sell them in the first place? is it really right for a company to make profit from someone ruining their health?

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    1975 - 2009, smoking by UK men has halved - incidences of lung cancer have halved.
    1975 - 2009, smoking by UK women has halved - incidences of lung cancer have doubled.
    Japan has the highest rate of tobacco consumption in the developed world. There are no restrictions on the sale or use of tobacco. The Japanese have the greatest life expectancy in the world.

    It's not that simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Smoking kills, Guns Kill when used for the purpose they are intended, Guns for this purpose unless in the military are banned so why do the Government impose high taxes and advertising bans on a product that used as in intended is known to kill.. They either want to stop people smoking or they don't simply taxing the product is not the solution.


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