ACS has won a victory on tobacco display, but will keep fighting after the election

When Parliament voted for the ban on tobacco displays at the end of last year we were left frustrated by a sense that it was political posturing rather than a clear grasp of the evidence that had ultimately influenced the majority of MPs to vote for it.

We have been spending much of our time recently engaging in a robust negotiation with government over the detail of the regulations they proposed.

It is therefore satisfying that we saw the concessions made this week, as it appears the display ban will be less costly and less disruptive than it would have been without our intervention.

Under the revised rules a typical gantry will only need to be fitted with four doors, rather than the 20 required in the original proposal. This will make brands quicker to find, so serving and restocking tobacco in stores will be easier than it would otherwise have been.

The concessions improve a bad situation, but the display ban will still be costly, disruptive and pointless. As we face a forthcoming election and possible change of government our overarching aim is to convince the next government to review and ultimately reverse this ban.

We will not know for sure until the dust has settled after polling day what the chances of this are. We have to assume that a victorious Labour administration would not entertain a review of the policy, but an incoming Conservative or coalition administration might.

In debate so far, both the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat leaderships have opposed the measure. We will be working hard to remind them of this if and when the time comes. However, it would be foolhardy for us to plan for the future on the basis that a reversal of the display ban will naturally follow a Conservative election victory.

James Lowman