It remains to be seen how the new coalition government will treat plans to ban tobacco displays in stores. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had declared their reservations prior to the election; the Tories even pledged to review it if they came into power.
Should the legislation go ahead as planned, the new law would require the removal of displays in large stores by October 1, 2011 and in smaller stores from October 1, 2013.
Retailers would, however, be allowed to show a requested display area of 7,500sq cm or a quarter of a 1.5m by 2m gantry. They would also be allowed to display an area of 7,500sq cm during restocking.
The law would create a new offence of displaying tobacco products to under-18s, meaning that checking for proof of age would be essential before a product was retrieved.
Retailers would also be able to display one A3-sized price list at each till point. The list may include sub-headings for different categories and must be worded with characters no higher than 7 millimetres.
Wales released a three- month consultation on its draft regulations for a tobacco display ban at the beginning of April. The regulations will then be tabled before the Welsh Assembly on July 6, 2010. They will also need to be tabled before the EU for three months under the Technical Standards Directive. It is at this point that other EU countries can register concerns about how the ban would affect cross-border trade.
The Welsh regulations are the same as in England, and have the same time frames for implementation.
More details can be found at http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/tobacco/?lang=en
Scotland has passed its own legislation to introduce the display ban: the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill. These regulations, which are considerably different to England and Wales, are open to consultation until July 31.
The proposals include limiting the requested display area to 120sq cm equal to the size of one packet of cigarettes, and the inclusion of smoking-related products, such as rolling papers and filters, in the ban.
The Scottish government is also seeking the introduction of fixed penalty notices for people who buy or attempt to buy tobacco for under-18s, as well as a fixed penalty of £200 for retailers who sell tobacco to under-18s, rising by £200 for every offence committed within a one-year period.
The time frames for the display ban implementation are, however, the same as in England and Wales.
More details can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations.
Northern Ireland has yet to release its draft regulations, though officials say that a consultation will be released shortly. After the consultation, regulations also have to be tabled before the NI Assembly. It is still uncertain what form the regulations will take, but the Minister for Health & Social Services Michael McGimpsey has said that it would be looking to implement the display ban in all stores by the end of 2010.
A tobacco display ban has been in force in the Republic of Ireland since July 1, 2009. The regulations state that tobacco must be concealed within a closed container or dispenser. Most high volume tobacco stores in Ireland were already using automated vending machines, so in many cases only minimum effort and spend was needed to comply. A registration system for all tobacco retailers was also introduced.
Early indications show a worrying rise in illicit tobacco sales since the ban was enforced.
Large stores: those with a floor space of 280sq m and more. Small stores: those with less than 280sq m of floor space.