Scotland’s retail and wholesale trade associations have criticised the Scottish government’s decision to implement a tobacco display ban in large stores in just four months’ time.
The four-month window did not allow nearly enough time for large retailers to make the necessary changes to their gantries, the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) said.
“In our view, this implementation date does not represent a ‘fair timescale’ as stated yesterday by minister for public health Michael Matheson,”Kate Salmon, SWA executive director, said. “The threat of prosecutions looming in the coming months is bad for business.”
Agreeing with Salmon, Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive John Drummond also said that the situation was worse for Scottish retailers than those in the rest of the UK.
Large stores in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are already complying with a display ban, however they can reveal up to 1.5sq m of their gantry when serving an adult smoking customer.
In Scotland, the government plans to limit the permissible size of tobacco display during a transaction to a smaller 1,000 sq cm (about the size of eight to 12 cigarette packs).
“It is the retailers who are the real losers in this case. Scottish retailers are worse affected than the other countries in the UK due to the draconian measures imposed by the Scottish Government especially in relation to the available space allowed during any transaction,” Drummond said.
The Scottish government has also yet to confirm if small Scottish stores will have a further three years before they need to comply with a display ban, or if they will be forced to comply at the same time as small stores in the rest of the UK on April 6 2015.
UK retailers meanwhile are also awaiting feedback from the UK government on its consultation on cigarette packaging.