Members of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA), the coalition of independent retailers who campaign on tobacco issues, descended on the Department of Health’s (DoH) offices in Waterloo to deliver a weighty 7,500 postcards in protest against government plans to ban the open display of tobacco in shops. The group of retailers was also armed with an 8ft-long protest banner and a further 2,000-name petition against the plans. The postcards, which simply required a signature, were designed by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance after it emerged that the format and process of the consultation made it difficult for many retailers to participate. The 110-page document was available only in English, and responses could only be given in writing to the DoH. TRA national spokesman Ken Patel said: “We all work extremely long hours so it was incredibly difficult for retailers to find the time to sit and write a letter. “On top of that, 75% of Britain’s shopkeepers are Asian and even if you speak excellent English, writing can be difficult if it’s not your native language.” The TRA has vowed to keep campaigning against government proposals now that the consultation has closed. “We need to keep up the pressure on MPs and make them realise that this is a small-business issue, not just a health issue,” said campaign manager Katherine Graham. All the major UK trade associations have made submissions to the consultation, as well thousands of individual retailers. The major tobacco companies have also submitted lengthy documents, as have healthcare organisations, brand development groups and cancer charities. The DoH is expected to publish a full report on the consultation within three months.

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