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 420.

    So many comments here reckon that the government do not want to end smoking because of the revenue gains. ( £9b) Tosh! This is a red herring.

    Tune into the language being used by Lansely et al.
    "We want to arrive at a place where we no longer see smoking as a normal part of life"

    I don't trust a politicians as far as I could throw them, but on this issue there is sincerity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    "ministers promise" is self-contradicting, and this measure is a crock of rubbish. People know the risks of smoking, and they know how addictive it is. They take it up in full knowledge of the facts.

    If they want to smoke after that, then it's up to them - the tax they pay more than covers any health care they will need. The same should apply to other drugs including alcohol

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.


    The display ban isn't supposed to stop those who already smoke and are addicted. It's supposed to reduce the number of kids who start smoking. I don't see anyone losing out in this. People who already smoke know that they can still get what they want from behind the curtain, but children have less exposure to the shelves of colourful packaging that might lure them in. Who loses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Stupid arrogance by governments. We have been informed, only adults can buy them legally, they can not be used in places where it affects others, so get out of our lives and free choices. Given the way this world is, living fast, dying young, and enjoying the time, is probably more attractive than old age abused in a care home living too long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    All the laws and subterfuge will not stop the smoking habit amongst those addicted to nicotine and I can see the opposite effect with youngsters who may well view "buying under the counter" as really COOL.
    Sadly the health hazards are always going to be ignored by the young who cannot envisage what smoking is doing to their bodies. Biology lessons must be more graphic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    386 Perpetual Sigh

    Do you have anything to add?

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Ban smoking in the street. I frequently have to hold my breath when walking through my local town centre to avoid inhaling all the stinking clouds of cigarette smoke from passers by.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    I have concluded that the campaign against people who smoke should be responded to in the following way. Promote people and ideas which will lead to soft drugs being legalised, support ilegal use in the meantime. Argue against any government in power, particularly where the gutter press is having a witchhunt. Argue vehemently for laws against alcohol consumption and the availability of fatty food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    I fully support the moves to reduce smoking but find it hard to understand why some TV programmes get away with blatant smoking. I love Coronation Street on ITV but am amazed at the number of characters on it that smoke. I am totally unaware of any other TV programme where this happens. Coronation Street is a popular programme with children and all episodes are before the watershed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    As an ex smoker I can say keeping fags out of sight would have helped me in my many attempts to give up. Queuing up to buy something after not smoking for 6 months and having them in full view works for the vendor.
    It may not stop young people from being as dumb as I was but it will help them give up and the less people around smoking the less peer pressure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    @ 375.sheila coleman
    My local hospital has also banned smoking in the grounds. Hasn't banned the big red buses from stopping outside the main entrance or moved the carpark from the main enterances. Oh I forgot the carcinogenic fumes from vehicles are not under attack tinpot dictatorship couldn't afford the revenue loss

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    So people with a serious chemical addiction will suddenly forget it because they don't see a packet of fags in front of them at the shops.

    Get real!

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    I am a smoker but I have to point out that taxes raised on smoking do not pay for the enitire NHS.
    National Insurance does not cover the NHS bill. It falls short by about 10billion. Smokers Cost the NHS 2.5billion a year. Tax on tobacco is about 12billion. So smokers do actually benefit the NHS but we do not pay for it in its entirety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    As an ex smoker I think this new plain package/under the counter idea is ridiculous it does nothing but inconvenience shopworkers. NO child buys cigarettes from a supermarket without help.The taboo part of smoking is what makes it exciting and desirable to a child. I think this will encourage children to find out and start smoking because obviously it is something adults don't want them to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    10 Minutes ago
    Surely the fact that it is against the law to smoke until you are 18 is enough? "....
    Actually you can legally smoke at 16,but it is illegal to buy them until you are 18.Never understood that.
    Also,you cant back a horse till you are 18,but you can waste all your money on lottery tickets and scratch cards at 16 ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    176. asfish
    "My local supermarket has followed these new rules for the last 3 days. The process of selling cigarettes has now become something secretive, its pathetic for an adult to watch, but no doubt will bring more attention to smoking for any children who pick up on it. Maybe some children will start smoking as a result of the way shops are behaving."

    How will they know what to ask for ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    We should do as they did in France a few years ago when their government wanted to raise tax on tobacco. The tobacconists feared they would lose sales due to the increase so EVERY tobacco seller in the country refused to sell any for one day. The government soon backed down! We should rebel like that here, a peaceful protest, not riots, then watch things change!

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    376.Viv That I understand but I think you may have missed the point.

    Abuse yourself by all means, entirely up to you, but don't expect me to pay for the costs of your actions. The money saved by not giving "as required" but you either stump up or die may just focus a few minds so that money wasted on treatment may be focused on those who have a true need not a personal created one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    The people on here calling for tobacco to be outlawed are just as idiotic as those who have made various drugs illegal over the years. Banning/outlawing does NOT work, it just drives it underground. And on that matter, 5 billion troops in Afghan and still the opium crop goes up year on year while we pump truckloads of money into anti drugs campaigns at home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    absolutley pointless,makes no sense at all, so tobacco's will still be there but lets hide them pretend they no longer exist & that will curb or stop smoking?,there's book called 'Alice In Wonderland',its the Condem manifesto come to life.


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