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Tobacco display ban unnecessary burden

Enforcing a display ban on tobacco products at a time when a requirement for plain tobacco packaging is still being considered risks pointless duplication, adding to the burdens on retailers of all sizes.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Tobacco display ban unnecessary burden

Responding to an announcement by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley that he will implement legislation in England banning shop displays of cigarettes, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says there is no evidence this will make a difference to smoking habits.

The Government's right to look at how to reduce the harm from smoking but its focus should be on tackling the influence friends and family members have over young people's decisions and their access to tobacco.

Food Director at the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie, said: "Retailers support efforts to reduce the harm caused by smoking but there's no evidence that forcing shops to put cigarettes out of sight will make any difference. It puts new costs on retailers who are being forced to refit their stores, and will inconvenience customers who have to wait longer to be served.

"Giving retailers longer to prepare for this legislation is helpful, but there is a much bigger issue to be addressed. If the Government aims to introduce plain packaging then a display ban is unnecessary.

"It doesn't make sense to enact one part of this plan while another is still under discussion. Banning shop displays of cigarettes in plain packets is pointless duplication. What should be looked at is the influence family members and friends have on youngsters' decisions to start smoking, and their access to tobacco."

The BRC is asking the Government to tighten up the law on the purchasing of tobacco products so the same rules apply as for alcohol. It is not currently illegal for a child to try to buy cigarettes or for an adult to buy tobacco products for a child.

BRC Food Director Andrew Opie said: "Retailers take their responsibilities seriously when selling tobacco products but the law sends out a contradictory message. If children know they won't get into trouble if they attempt to buy cigarettes they can keep trying their luck time and again.

"As with alcohol, it should be illegal for under-age children to try to buy cigarettes. Adults who buy cigarettes on their behalf should also face prosecution. At the moment, it is only the retailers who face punishment."

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