A number of sources close to the issue claim that continued discussions between government departments and continued pressure from retailers and their representatives about the impact of the ban would have on local shops, will see the start dates pushed back to October 1, 2012 for larger outlets and 2014 for smaller stores.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is known to be concerned about the cost burden and operational difficulties that a display ban would heap on small shops. Speaking at a parliamentary reception for local stores last week, business minister Mark Prisk said that the BIS had been actively lobbying the Health Secretary to overturn the ban.
It is also expected that the government will soften its stance on the procedure for restocking and on the requested display area the segment of gantry that retailers will be permitted to show while retrieving a product. This could be increased from a quarter of a standard sized gantry to half, resulting in a simpler and less costly solution for retailers as well as minimising the disruption to trade as it would be far easier to retrieve products.
C-Store reported in the previous issue that more than 6,000 retailers had sent Stop The Tobacco Display Ban postcards to the Department of Health as part of an initiative organised by the Association of Convenience Stores and C-Store.
A formal announcement on the tobacco display ban by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, including greater detail on the changes, is expected soon.