The proposed ban on retail displays of tobacco could have huge negative consequences for retailers of all sizes, while having no effect on smoking levels.

What's it all about?

Laws passed in both Westminster and Scotland will force retailers to invest in covered storage for tobacco products unless last-minute intervention can persuade politicians to think again.

The tobacco display ban could potentially cost retailers thousands of pounds in gantry modifications and ongoing operational difficulties, all without achieving its objective of reducing youth smoking. With both parties in the coalition government having promised to review the ban, retailers have a matter of weeks to make the case for it to be abandoned.

Act now:
Write to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and tell him how the display ban will affect your business or contact us for a pre-addressed postcard.
Like the government, we believe legislation should be evidence based and that there is no compelling evidence to suggest that hiding cigarettes from view in shops prevents children smoking. The ban could also disadvantage smaller stores as the customer will not know if they sell tobacco products, and it could result in sales shifting from the legitimate, controlled and duty-collecting supply chain to the black market. Latest figures suggest that fewer children are taking up smoking and current programmes of education and information make the ban plan redundant.

Health lobbyists and anti-smoking campaigners are already working hard to persuade the government to allow the ban to go ahead. Now retailers have to act fast to ensure their voice is heard, too. In Scotland, where the restrictions on retailers are even more onerous, the battle is to get the proposals into line with those in England and Wales.

Keep Tobacco Over The Counter also involves cracking down on illegal sources of cigarettes, so that responsible retailers who check the age of customers and collect revenue in tax and VAT are the only point of purchase.

Our campaign calls for resources to be put into addressing the real sources of supply of tobacco to children proxy purchasing by adults and illegal operators selling imported or counterfeit products.

What we've done

Over two years we've fought hard for the rejection of the display ban, highlighted the illogical premise and costly implications of the proposal, and written letters and participated in petitions calling for a more considered approach to tackling the problem. We've tracked youth smoking figures in the countries where bans are in place and highlighted the lack of effect the bans have had.

Next steps

We're taking the fight to the heart of government with the Stop The Display Ban campaign and encourage every C-Store reader to send a postcard to the Health Secretary to demonstrate their opposition to the legislation.

Whatever the outcome, the campaign will continue to press government to do more to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and to view retailers as partners in implementing sensible tobacco policies, rather than soft targets for ineffective legislation.