A new report by one of the UK’s most influential health lobby groups has angered tobacco retailers by proposing radical control strategies which could force them out of the market.

The report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which has been welcomed by chief medical officer and principal government adviser Sir Liam Donaldson, calls for a wide range of punitive measures to further restrict the sale of tobacco in stores, including a total ban on its sale in premises close to schools. It also suggests a ban in all shops ‘where children are permitted’.

Restrictions on the number of hours each day that a retailer can sell tobacco have also been proposed, as has the introduction of a costly and progressive licensing scheme, to convince struggling retailers to stop selling tobacco altogether. The report also calls for a year-on-year increase of 10% in the retail price of tobacco products.

Retailers’ representatives questioned the evidence base for such measures, which they said showed a total disregard for the harmful consequences of the proposals on thousands of small businesses.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “It’s gratifying the health lobby does not have free rein to set policy for government as they invariably overplay the benefit of the measures they propose.”  

Local communities would be “horrified” by many of the proposals which were “clearly geared towards squeezing the smallest independent shops out of the market” said Leicester store-owner Ken Patel, national spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance.