Updated - England - tabacco display ban - the Lords got it right..

August 22, 2009 - On May 6, 2009 The House of Lords voted to ban displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The Bill will has now been returned to the House of Commons for a final vote by Members of Parliament (MPs).

Patrick Basham, who directs the Democracy Institute and is a Cato Institute adjunct scholar recently provided comments on why the Lords should not have approved the ban.

Tobacco - Health Bill 2009

Scotland's Public Health Minister Shona Robison reminds us - "the protection of children and young people from the impact of tobacco must be paramount and there are instances when the benefits to the public health of the nation must take precedence."

Tobacco products are legal and can be sold in retail outlets. In fact tobacco is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. Tobacco kills half the people who use it as directed, the earlier you start the greater the chance of premature death. Smoking remains the main cause of preventable disease and premature death in the United Kingdom (UK). In England alone, over 80,000 deaths per year are due to smoking and about 8.5 million people still smoke in England today. Smoking related conditions and diseases cost the National Health Servive an estimated £1.5 billion (2.47200 billion U.S. dollars) per year.

Possibly tobacco would no longer be legal to sell if for decades, major tobacco companies have lied about the risks of smoking. In August of 2006, a United States federal judge ruled that the tobacco industry had actually engaged in racketeering practices, stating that the industry had engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from their users. The judge stated that the conspiracy dated back to 1953, when a group of tobacco companies met together at the Plaza Hotel in New York City and devised a public relations plan to counter health concerns associated with smoking. It was also found that the tobacco industry marketed their product to youth groups; that even though the industry claims it does not want children to smoke, the companies were caught tracking youth behavior and preferences, thereby ensuring that “marketing and promotion reaches youth,” even hiding from them the serious dangers of smoking while their young bodies were still developing.

Retail stores represent the main interface between tobacco producers and customers. Attractive-looking packets, as packages are called in Britain, are one of the few remaining options tobacco companies have to appeal to smokers in the developed world.
Michael Symanczyk, CEO of Altria Group has stated that Philip Morris owes their success to the ability to connect with the tobacco consumer through the-in-store-experience and the development of one-to-one relationship using their database 0f 25 million adult cigarette smokers. (Remarks, Investor Presentation, 3/11/2008) We surely do not want cigarette makers to be successful and continue to spread death around the world.

In is well known that colorful and clever cigarette pack designs, which are constantly entering the market, represent a deliberate marketing strategy to recruit young people to smoke. According to statistics published by the UK Cancer Research Institute, more than 400 adolescents become occasional, light smokers each day across the United Kingdom. Professor Janet Hoek and Dr Heather Gifford found in New Zealand with interviews with former smokers and lapsed quitters show that tobacco displays are highly visible and tempt people struggling to give up a dangerous and unhealthy habit.

Tobacco should be treated just like a controlled substance kept out of view and only available when requested by the proper patron. On the dependence scale, the three most addicting drugs are heroin (#1), cocaine (#2) and tobacco (#3). A number of jurisdictions have already banned tobacco displays at retail outlets - surely these people can't all be wrong.

It has been found American adolescents who live in states that comply with tobacco sales laws are less likely to pick up a smoking habit than are those who live where the laws are not vigorously enforced. In the United Kingdom in order to purchase tobacco products the age has been raised to 18 but there's no uniformity in enforcing these purchases. One example - six young people serving as volunteers visited shops around the West Midland region (metropolitan county in western central England) and attempted to buy cigarettes. These volunteers were able to make purchase cigarettes in 31 out of 38 shops. (Is It as Easy as Young People Claim for Them to Buy Cigarettes? Comparing the Results of Realistic Test Purchases with Those from Trading Standards Test Purchases, Emma Croghan, Paul Aveyard and Carol Johnson, EmeraldInsight.com, July 2004) Banning of tobacco product displays will provide uniformity throughout all retail outlets selling tobacco products.

According to Cancer Research UK - research shows that 70 percent of adults in the United Kingdom back proposals to protect children from tobacco by putting it out of sight in shops and 76 percent support abolishing cigarette vending machines.

How much could it possibly cost to place cigarette packs out of sight of customers? In the past cigarette makers have been directly involved in providing the shelving for the display of tobacco products. The Australian Association of Convenience Stores executive director David Killeen has acknowledged that tobacco companies paid for retail displays in many, but not all, convenience stores. The government should find a contractor to work with the various types of retail outlets to find the best arrangement to hide the tobacco products.

With tobacco products out of sight eventually if not sooner tobacco products will be to a certain degree out of mind. The longer the ban is in force the more removed from a person's mind will be thoughts about tobacco - both for the youngster and the person serious about quitting.

We are predicting that Scotland will be the first country in the United Kingdom to successfully implement the ban preventing the display of tobacco products in retail outlets.

Meanwhile in the U.S.A.the Big 3-Cigarette makers compete for every inch of space in convenience stores.

Some related news briefs:
"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...