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Repeal the Tobacco Display Ban

Comment 10th September 2010

The last government passed a regulation that would require shopkeepers to
hide tobacco products that they have for sale in their shops.  As the
public affairs manager for the largest trade associations in the UK that
represents small independent shops, the National Federation of Retail
Newsagents, I know just how small retailers feel about this pointless
legislation.  Our members are very hardworking people.  Most own only one
store in which they and their families work for up to fourteen hours a day.
Most do not have the time to participate in internet debates such as this
and many do not use the internet at all.  However, responsible retailers do
play a very important role in preventing young people from smoking.  Every
day, the vast majority of retailers viligantly refuse minors who are trying
to buy cigarettes and often suffer verbal and physical abuse as a result.
They are at the front line when it comes to preventing underage smoking
which is now at a lower level than ever before.

This legislation will harm them in many ways without stopping one person in
the UK from smoking or starting to smoke.  Here are the facts:


1.  It will cost each shop £1000 to implement


2.  Shopkeepers need to be consistently vigilent in monitoring their shops
or they risk getting robbed or assaulted.  If they have to search for a
tobacco product in its hiding place everytime someone wants to purchase
them, they will be distracted and at risk.  In short, retail crime will
increase


3.  Our members are constantly under threat from the ever spreading Tesco
Expresses, Sainsbury's Local etc.  This rule will put them at a further
competitive disadvantage to those big businesses who will be better able to
afford it and adapt to it.


4.  There is not one shred of credible evidence that there is any need for
this legislation.  It has failed to reduce smoking in every other country
that has introduced it.  In fact, in Canada and Ireland, smoking has
increased since display bans were introduced.  This could be because,
minors become more interested in things that they see adults hiding away.


For these reasons, we call on the coalition to repeal Section 21 of the Health Act 2009 and related regulations – something
that both coalition parties promised to do before the election. We also
call on the coalition to instead work with, not against, retailers in
stopping young people from starting to smoke

Why does this matter?

This is important because governments should not impose costs and burdens
on small business without having a clear evidence base to justify them.  In
this case, not only is there no evidence to justify the measure, but the
better evidence demonstrates that it will not work

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