Government ban on cigarette displays to face legal challenge
"It was not long ago that the Government was embarrassed by the discovery that the 1984 Video Recordings Act was potentially unenforceable, despite having been in force for 25 years in the UK. The story was newsworthy because the Act regulated the sale and supply of age-related products. The embarrassment was due to a failure by the UK to notify the European Commission prior to its passage into law. It seems almost inconceivable that a similar oversight might have occurred so soon after that one and the reality is that it probably did not. The relevant provisions in the Health Bill will have pre-dated the discovery of the European legal point.
“The Health Bill story is newsworthy because it is about smoking. Similar to videos and DVDs, there is an age-related element in play, engaging the State's responsibility (or putative right) to regulate our decision-making. Many people feel strongly about these topics and that is another reason why they are newsworthy - they prompt opinion and response.
“In reality, if a technical legal issue has been identified, it can probably be put right without much fuss. In the case of the Video Recordings Act, even after 25 years of enforcement which was arguably unlawful, there was no rush by retailers to behave otherwise than in accordance with the Act and no rush to the courts to seek to overturn convictions (at least, none that have been reported). No doubt if such a case is pending we shall be told all about it as soon as it is due for hearing - because it is newsworthy and because we shall probably have a view."
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