UK - Retailer tells small shops to ignore tobacco industry 'scare tactics'..

October 16, 2009 - Responding to the vote to end the display of tobacco in shops and the Government’s draft regulations published yesterday October 12th, a prominent independent retailer accused the tobacco industry of misleading retailers, the public and politicians about the real impact of display bans.

Tobacco manufacturers have placed ads in the retail trade press warning shopkeepers that their businesses could close as a result of the proposed law.

But former North of England President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, John McClery, has described information circulated by the tobacco industry about Government proposals to end the display of tobacco as "scare tactics".

Related news brief: Ireland - people responding well to the ban on cigarette displays..

McClery visited Ireland at the invitation of the Smokefree Action Coalition to find out how the Irish have implemented their display ban, which came into effect on 1 July this year. Although he had long believed that a display ban would have little impact on legitimate adult tobacco sales he was surprised by the level of enthusiasm for the ban expressed by retailers.McClery said: “I was amazed at how enthusiastic retailers were. Complying with the legislation had not been expensive and sales to adults hadn’t been affected. "In the shops I went into, retailers were using the premium display space freed up from cigarettes for products that bring in a better profit. "One Dublin retailer told me ‘Tobacco doesn’t need advertising. We should have done it years ago.’ "

McClery walked through Dublin entering shops at random asking to speak to managers about how the new law was fitting in. Many retailers were promoting their own goods where once they had been obliged to promote cigarettes.

The owner of four outlets in the Supervalu franchise said: “If anything it has been good for business. There was a slight downward blip when the new law came in but that was compensated by a slight upward blip in fresh fruit sales. That suits me because we have better margins on fruit and veg. We’re not interested in selling to teenagers. We take that very seriously here.”

The manager of a nearby Spar added: “At the budget end of the market tobacco companies used to have price wars to capture each other’s customers. "It was retailers who would get caught in the middle and our margins would suffer. "Now those aggressive price promotions look a thing of the past.”

Independent retailer Mahesh Patel from West London also believes that the display ban is not something which retailers should fear but that it will provide opportunities for them to increase profits.

In a letter to Retail Express he wrote: “Less emphasis on tobacco sales in the future will allow independent retailers to expand what they stock and concentrate on items that will provide higher profit margins.

"At the moment margins on cigarettes are low, so the ban will give small retailers the opportunity to boost profits.”

Martin Dockrell, Director of Policy and Research at the health charity Action on Smoking and Health, has visited Ireland three times this summer to meet with small retailers. “Before the new law came in on 1 July, retailers were ready but apprehensive. Then they were relieved as they saw their customers came in just as they always did and tourists would ask just as they always did. Now it is striking how optimistic Irish retailers are. They get to sell more of the things people really need and they are doing very well from it.”

Reference: Retailer tells small shops to ignore tobacco industry 'scare tactics' “Ignore tobacco industry scare tactics.” says retailer, “Cigarette display ban could be good for business”, Christian Today, 10/13/2009.

Some related news briefs:
UK - Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) unhappy with tobacco displays ban..;
United Kingdom - House of Commons - ban cigarette displays a step closer/vending machine ban even closer..;
Ireland - people responding well to the ban on cigaretet displays..;
JTI attacks UK government for plan to ban tobacco displays..
United Kingdom - 3rd reading of Public Health Bill including ban on tobacco displays..
United Kingdom - limiting access to cigarette vending machines not possible..;
Updated - England - tabacco display ban - the Lords got it right..;
Fewer Britons support the ban on smoking in pubs than in other public places..
"Glasgow effect" - prevalence of cigarette smoking impact on poor health..;
Scotland - tobacco industry will try to stop attempts to curb sales to young people..;
Scotland - cigarette vending machines removal..;
Scottish politicians most have the courage to protect the health of their constituents..;
England, House of Lords votes to ban shop tobacco dislays and restrict vending machine use..;
Northern Ireland - assembly approves ban on display of tobacco items..;
Scotland to ban cigarette displays and outlaw cigarette vending machines..;
England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..;
UK - Strategies to be implemented to prevent underage tobacco use...