Further restricting tobacco sales will pull a sort of iron curtain down on cigs, leading to bigger and better black markets and criminalised retailers who, quite frankly, have better things to do than deliberately flout the law. None of us is old enough to remember prohibition but we all know where it led (and they didn't have access to that easy freeway, the internet, back then). Prohibit something and it becomes the desired object.
Lesley Brown, from Barnstaple in Devon and a 'regular' on C-Store's various pages, writes: "We have had reported to us a person who is selling tobacco from his house. I reported this to my local police six months ago, who told me they can take no action as it has to be dealt with by Customs and Excise, so they reported the matter.
"Our local beat manager paid the person a visit and told him that they had received intelligence regarding the matter and that they had passed on the information to the revenue. Case closed, or so we thought. Yesterday my informant tells me it is still going on and, if anything, more so. I contacted the police again, only to be told that Customs were not interested because it would probably only be a small amount. I am flabbergasted. This will only get worse if the government makes us put cigarettes and tobacco under the counter."
I suspect Customs are short-staffed. If you try ringing their Customs Confidential hotlines you will need to be both patient and persistent.
I'm also sorry to have to report that Darren Norman's Downing Street website petition, publicised in this column, to fight the relegation of cigarette displays, got only 38 signatures.
He needed a minimum of 200 to get a response from Downing Street. He writes: "We will just have to put up with whatever is thrown at us if we can't be bothered to help ourselves."