ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Scotland is calling on members of the public to write to their local shop if they are in favour of the removal of tobacco displays.

The lobby group has launched a campaign calling on the public to ask retailers to support new rules that would ban cigarettes from what it calls “pride of place in our shops.”

Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill aims to prevent children from smoking by stopping the visibility and availability of cigarettes to young people including removing cigarette displays at the point of sale." 

She said the measures would not stop retailers selling cigarettes to adult smokers and would not affect footfall as “existing tobacco displays aren’t visible from outside the shop.” 

In a sample letter, ASH suggests customers tell their retailer that “retail display of tobacco is known to be one of the factors that can lead some young people to becoming smokers.”

It adds: “With smoking rates in decline in this country, this could be a great opportunity for retailers to prepare for a much healthier future.”

Retailers believe the case for a display ban is weak as there is no evidence to suggest it would change youth smoking rates. They consider that controls on the black market sale of tobacco products, and legal moves to stop adults buying cigarettes for children, would be more effective measures.

Shop owners also expressed their surprise that ASH believed cigarettes take pride of place in local shops. “This just shows how little they understand about retailing,” one said.

What do you think of ASH's new campaign? Have you received any letters from customers? Please add your comments below.