Simon Dixon, who runs Premier Express in Lower Darwen, Lancashire, is one retailer who managed to write to the Secretary of State before the January 4 deadline in response to the consultation on the regulations to implement the tobacco display ban.

It's a very good letter. And it goes, in part: "I am very upset that this bill has become law and now wonder where all this will end. Alcohol and chocolate are also considered harmful to your health, so should I expect to run my future business as a shop consisting of a giant counter hiding all my offending stock, or expect my customers to select goods through blank cupboard doors fitted to my shelves? Maybe I will be told by the government to take on the role of a social worker and stop serving any customers who are overweight, alcoholic or smokers!

"As a responsible retailer, I don't believe that there should be a ban on tobacco displays at all. There remains no clear evidence that it will be effective in reducing youth smoking. It is not fair to burden my business with costs for a measure which is not proven to work.

"However, now this bill has become law, I want to ensure that the regulations have as little impact as possible on my business. In particular, I am concerned at the stipulation of a maximum size of display during a transaction. The size of 1,500sq cm is too small. It will mean that a standard gantry will need to have about 20 separate covers to comply. This will make it very difficult for my staff to locate products and will add significantly to my transaction time. This will impact on the customers as well as my staff."

Simon is also very worried about the regulations for restocking. He restocks throughout the day in between customers. The regulations will require more staff hours, which will impact on his bottom line at a very difficult time.

"I would like to see a complete exemption for restocking, as it is an unavoidable part of my trade," he adds.

I hope he sends me any response he gets. Meanwhile, I urge all of you to keep up the pressure, deadline or no deadline. There are many months to go before the display ban is implemented (October 2011 in large stores and 2013 before it hits smaller stores). A lot could happen in that time.

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