Tobacco display-ban report published
Small businesses are complying with new legislation aimed at preventing children from taking up smoking, according to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) report published today (29 October).
Almost 90% of smaller retailers were fully compliant while practically all made some effort to comply with the laws that ban tobacco displays and require a standardised price list.
Critics had argued that April’s roll out of the tobacco advertising regulations, implemented in larger stores in 2012, would be too costly for smaller retailers in terms of installation and lost revenue.
Melissa Dring, director of policy at CTSI, said that the encouraging compliance rates showed retailers are ready to move with the times.
She said: “Smoking is killing about 81,400 people each year in England and children who are exposed to in-store tobacco marketing are more likely to start this deadly and debilitating habit.
“With two-thirds of smokers starting as children it is vital that we do everything we can to discourage them from developing a habit that places a huge burden on the NHS.
“Removing tobacco products from sight discourages young people from buying tobacco and businesses that fail to do so are breaking the law and could face legal action.”
Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister said: “Smoking is the biggest preventable killer in England, claiming around 80,000 lives each year.
“The display ban is part of a package of measures aimed at preventing young people from starting smoking and supporting adults who are trying to quit.
"I am encouraged to see high levels of compliance with the display ban amongst retailers across the country, which is helping to protect people from the harmful effects of smoking."
The Rapid Review on Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Regulations Compliance by Small Businesses was commissioned by the Department of Health’s tobacco policy team.
It saw local trading standards services across nine regions in England visit 592 smaller retailers, at random, over eight weeks in July and August this year.
The eastern region recorded the highest returns on display compliance (93%) compared with the midlands and the north-east which scored the lowest (84%).
Pricing regulation compliance was lower across the board and at its lowest in the north-east (73%) and highest in the south-east (95%).
Examples of non-compliance included: display doors being left open; stores unaware of pricing regulations; as well as see-through curtains and ill-fitting blinds covering displays.
Trading standards services provided advice and guidance to those businesses that failed to meet the required standards.
Retailers who flout the new regulations may face unlimited fines or six months in prison.
The overall compliance rate is lower than that of CTSI's 2013 review into large businesses where 98% of retailers complied with legislation on displays and 93% met pricing obligations.
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