Retailers slam ban on smoking displays

RETAILERS yesterday slammed the government’s move to ban tobacco displays as expensive and ineffective.

From April next year, large retailers will be forced to hide cigarettes, rolling tobacco and other tobacco products under shop counters, with the same ban enforced for small retailers from April 2015.

The counter ban, which follows a ban on vending machine tobacco sales from October, is aimed at reducing the number of people who smoke.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley, who published the plans to coincide with national No Smoking Day, said he wanted to reduce smoking rates faster over the next five years than the previous five.

But retailers said there was “no evidence” axing displays would reduce smoking.

James Lowman, chief executive of The Association of Convenience Stores, estimated the new regulations would impose £40m of costs on retailers.

The government is also consulting on introducing plain packaging for cigarettes, in a bid to reduce the promotional impact of logos.