Retailers representatives have lobbied government ministers over the proposed tobacco display ban, due for debate in the House of Commons next week.
At last week’s Labour Party Conference, National Federation of Retail Newsagents’ (NFRN) national president Suleman Khonat and fellow retailers explained the sector’s view of the proposal to senior party figures including deputy leader Harriet Harman, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ben Bradshaw and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.
Khonat said: “We raised a number of concerns, particularly our fears about an increase in tobacco smuggling. We also provided evidence from countries where bans have already been imposed to show just how ineffective these have been.
“We made it clear that we are in favour of steps being taken to stop young people smoking, but believe that a tobacco display ban is not the right way to go about it.”
The NFRN said it would support other initiatives which it believed would have a more positive impact on cutting the number of young people smoking.
Khonat warned that counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes could flood the market and put newsagents in danger. “Increased approaches to stock these illegal products from the underworld will, I fear, turn more menacing for newsagents as protection racketeering could well take over,” he said.
“And all along, more children will take up smoking cheaper cigarettes with a more dangerous content to them, and the Government will be scratching their heads wondering why their tax revenues are in steep decline.”