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 360.

    Andrew Lansley doesn`t know what he`s talking about. This will neither stop young people from taking up smoking nor help those trying to give up. All it will achieve is to annoy people. If he`s serious about stopping youngsters from taking up smoking go into schools and educate them because that`s where smoking starts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    e-cigarettes are the next big thing for the loonytunes health clergy to get their knickers in a twist

    There's going to be a mad scramble by the government to figure out how they can tax a zero-tobacco based nicotine delivery system which costs a fraction of a pack of smokes

    th-th-th that's all folks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Seriously,tobacco is the worst addiction ive come across.It never leaves you follows you your whole life,go for drink fancy a fag,have some food then your thinking i could be done with nicotine.Its always hiding somewhere in the mind waiting too jump out at you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    The claims that in other countries similar measures have had any reduction in smoking are just nonsense, a case of lies, damn lies and statistics. IN all cases other events such as large tax increases were also taking place. Would be better if health charities did more about vehicle pollution, which kills 24000 each year in the UK. Perhaps cars should be hidden away or made boringly standard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    What does Lansley care about the health of the nation? It's not as if there's going to be a Government-run health service by the time he's through...

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    As an ex smoker of 7 months It is a joy not to have to see cigs in the supermarket. If it stops a small percentage from starting and stops a small percentage from going back to smoking then it is a good move. Who could argue with that?

    It makes smoking seem even more negative which is a fantastic thing and long may it continue. Children must be aware of how awful this habit is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    I smoke and I wish I didn't, I want to give up, however, hiding tobacco products will not make them go away. The exemption on small shops is ridiculous. The main thrust of the "hidden from sight" strategy is to stop Children buying tobacco. Supermarkets would ensure the underage couldn't buy, however, the little shops are predominantly Asian and most (not all) will sell with impunity to anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    Cigarettes kept under the counter, how idiotic its like going back to the 1950`s for adult things.! What next are they going to be presented in a brown paper bag. I note small shops where most teenagers buy fags will not be required too until 2015. Is that after the election Dave?

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    "if you've been a smoker, you have to pay for any health care you receive, it shouldn't be free on the NHS"

    Really. Last tax *increase* costs about £100 a year per average smoker, which works out at about £900 million extra to the government coffers. That's just the last tax increase. NHS total estimated smoking costs, £2.8 billion (probably less now). Lets play our game.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    reasons it wont work - 1. kids buy them from corner shops not supermarkets where there is more chance of being seen by adults they know. 2. Kids dont decide to buy them once in the shop they decide before so under the counter will make no difference. 3. Kids who decide to try smoking are not magpies attracted to bright shiny items, its more likely to be peer pressure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Ban sales of fags from ice cream vans would be more useful as the van near our school makes quite a lot of money from the prats who buy them. I don't say ban in shops let adults choose & pay for the privilege but increase education at school to hopefully deter new users.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    This wont work as even though the products are not on sight, there are massive signs saying "Tabacoo" by the kiosk.

    Only way to cut down on under age people buying cigarettes is a blanket policy of the cashier asking "do you have any id of your age" to anyone looking under 25. If they offend TOUGH!!!! no id no fags simples

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    Why cant cigarette production be banned completely. Yes jobs will be lost and taxes reduced but more lives will be saved and the health care system can concentrate on other worrying diseases. Cigarrete smoking is just a bad habit that went vitral. It can be cortailed and needs to be. It has no single benefit. All smokers no this. If one has the urge engage in a sport or drink lots of water

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Suzanne Bosworth
    Tobacco in France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands costs about the same as here, give or take, from my experiences. Elsewhere in Europe where it is cheaper, I guess that correlates to local wages.

    Problem with this idea, with no colours and advertisements, I'm sure there'll be more curiosity in the packets! Surely we can think of a better initiative?

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    This will not work. The more you make something unobtainable and hidden the more youngsters will go and buy the mysterious packages that are under the counter.Look at prohibition of alcohol in the 20's min America never worked . The more they tried to ban it the more people bought it illegally. It was what caused the rise of the gangsters like Capone. Could happen here with tobacco.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Kids follow other kids at school and there are plenty of ways to get hold of them! Why not increase the purchase age to much older then it is harder to get them full stop. I can spot a smoker after a few years of smoking, all these young girls who value their looks so much these days should take a look at older women who look and smell vile!

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    It’s time to ban smoking in public altogether. People should have the right to smoke but those of us who don’t should not have to breathe in their revolting fumes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    @319 Rigadon
    presumably these aren't all duty free? And you feel pleased to be putting your money into the pockets of ogranised criminals than paying yoru legitimate taxes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    New question at supermarket checkout....."Something for the weekend ?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    As if banning displays in large shops is going to make any difference. How many children go to the supermarket to buy their cigarettes. A ban in all shops might make a difference but still won't stop their parents giving them to them.

    This is just the usual government idiocy... "Smoking is terrible we must do something.... Aha this is something so we'll do it"


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