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 400.

    Note the war on tobacco against the exponential rise in gambling-also taxed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    How insanely stupid is this?! This measure will not make one iota of difference and possibly make cigarettes more alluring to young people. Suddenly, cigarettes have become mysterious; 'those secret things adults hide behind shutters' and seeing the shutters open and the contents revealed for the merest minute will be so intriguing - like a glimpse of stocking top was years ago. Pathetic!

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    @197 It is a very fine line when you start not allowing people free health care due to their 'lifestyle choices' - you could then extend this to drinking, extreme sports, climbing a tree, etc etc - where do you stop? Ban smoking altogether then way less people would do it, of course there would be a bit on the black market but nowhere near as much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    I am in different to this ban However, an additional axe to grind with government is that I gave up cigarettes 7 weeks ago in favour of "Vaping" electronic cigarettes. A legal practise outside of the cigarette laws but which is so difficult for the government and organisations to understand that it is lumped in the fag house for banned usage in public places.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    i am not a smoker but can not see how hiding tobacco behind closed doors will prevent people from smoking. Is forbidden fruit not more tempting. They moved sweets away from the checkouts and that didn't stop children from getting sweets. Will we be putting alcohol behind closed doors to stop some people becoming alcoholics and cover up windows on fast food outlets to stop us seeing them what next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    To the people who have made comments making smokers out to be villainous scum; 1) Do smokers really cost any more for the NHS?
    2) While your up on your high horse, be sure to pass down any alcohol you have, oh, sorry, that's perfectly acceptable..

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    I worked in a Kiosk at a supermarket and they are more likely to refuse to serve underage than the small shops ,we had strict guidelines and if an argument occured with the youth,we called for the boss, also lots of parents sent kids for the cigs on promise of maybe a pack for them,small shops think of profit and have no back up for unruly kids, why not just ban them & cars choc etc its democracy

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    “I have something to tell you non-smokers that I know for a fact that you don't know, and I feel it's my duty to pass on information at all times. Ready?. . . . Non-smokers die every day . . . Enjoy your evening."

    Bill Hicks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    Perhaps some Tory minister has shares in a company that makes the screens to hide tobacco products? It's the only thing that makes sense. Good to see health charities distorting statistics to "prove their point" whilst still ignoring the all pervasive pollution caused by vehicles. Guess a lot of them can't be bothered to walk or cycle or live near their work or cut out unnecessary travel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    I really thought that presenting the facts (comment 335) might be welcome. I guess facts are not welcome here; where so many entrenched and blinkered views exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    Just now
    I for one am tired of the thick wall of foul smelling smoke outside of every shop on every high street in every town as the inconsiderate people who smoke stand in the doorway indulging in their foul habit.


    And who was it that forced them out there. Stop whinging, you`ve only youself to blame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    Total smoking taxes actually pay for the *entire* NHS several times over. I'm not trying to make a political point other than can we stop with the lies and stop talking like people who smoke cost non-smokers something. Ban smoking and enjoy the extra income tax or whatever the govt slaps you with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    Why do they allow people to purchase fags from abroad or alcohol for that matter.When they're brought into the U.K they should be made to pay the duty on them regardless of where they were purchased. Help to reduce our Nation's deficit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    Be a good citizen, help boost Britain's economy by smoking 20 a day and drinking goblets of unleaded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    381. Walijczyk
    "I'm amused by the smokers' comments here - a masterpiece of denial and delusion.

    Such are their egos that they can't take it in that this is about preventing the next generation of smokers. We know that today's hardcore of smokers won't give up, but they'll be dead in a few years anyway - problem solved."

    Oh my, where do I start? You really need to read a book sometime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    Anything that reinforces to smokers that they are social outcasts is a good thing.

    I can still remember getting home after a night out stinking from other people's smoke. Revenge is dish best served cold...

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    Yes. It is all in the mind. If you want to give anything up you just do it.
    Not that liberals accept that. They rather make excuses up."

    Interestingly smoking seems to be one issue where the right wing make excuses for those who can't or won't give up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    1) All these so-called 'token' efforts do accumulate to an effect. Remember the ban on smoking in public places, and how pleasant it is now for the majority.

    2) The argument about reduction in Govt. revenue will always be raised. OK, specific taxes don't go on specific measures. Unfair? Maybe. Undemocratic? No, you vote every 5 years. (Yes, I know the Chartists wanted annual elections).

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    Imagine a kid walking in to a shop, queuing up behind people who get that "magic door" opened time by time, revealing all those " mysterious looking sweets". One thing is sure. When you hide something, it will make people curious... Stupidest plan a democratic government could come up with!

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    I'm amused by the smokers' comments here - a masterpiece of denial and delusion.

    Such are their egos that they can't take it in that this is about preventing the next generation of smokers. We know that today's hardcore of smokers won't give up, but they'll be dead in a few years anyway - problem solved.


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