ASH Wales - chief executive, get on with it - stop large displays of cigarettes behind shop counters..

December 23, 2010 - The Head of Wales’ anti-smoking campaign is calling on the Government not to water down proposals for a ban on tobacco displays in shops.

Tanya Buchanan, chief executive of Ash Wales, has expressed concern at Government “dithering” (a state of indecision) over proposals to stop large displays of cigarettes behind shop counters which are said to influence young people. And she says evidence from a shop displays ban in Ireland proves it can work to reduce smoking.

The Vision of ASH Wales is: "ASH Wales is committed to achieving a life free from tobacco for all people in Wales."

The tobacco lobby has fiercely opposed the proposed ban, saying it will lead to a surge in smuggling and prove costly for small shopkeepers.

The previous Labour Government pledged to introduce the display ban.

But the public health minister, Anne Milton, has admitted that it is under review, telling the Commons last month: “The Government, in discussions across Whitehall (Parliament), is developing options around the display of tobacco in shops that seek to ensure an appropriate balance between public health priorities and burdens on business.”

Ms Buchanan said: “New research of the health and economic effects of the behind the counter ban of tobacco in Ireland, which has been in place since July 2009, was recently released. “The findings totally discredit the tobacco industry’s claims of the devastation the ban would have on small retailers. “In fact the findings show the reverse is true – that Ireland’s tobacco display ban has not decreased retailers’ sales of cigarettes, nor has it led to any increase in illicit tobacco sales.

“Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry has had little to say on this new evidence.”

A spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association said: “A ban on the display of products will blur the distinction between the legal and illegal market by virtue of it all being ‘under the counter’, which will benefit the illicit trade in tobacco smuggling and hit the Government’s tax revenues.”

Legislation to block British shopkeepers from openly displaying cigarettes for sale, due to come into force early next year, is to be weakened after Conservative/Liberal Democrat ministers accepted that it could harm small businesses and encourage black-market sales of cigarettes. The changes to the implementation of the Health Act could require House of Commons approval with one ministerial source saying that there ‘will be a compromise’. (Cigarette display ban could be watered down, Tobacco Journal International, 11/9/2010; United Kingdom - Disappointment - cigarette point-of-sale display ban will be weakened..)

Just as good.. United Kingdom - govt wants cigarette packaging in plain brown wrappers..

Reference: Government accused of ‘dithering’ over proposed tobacco display ban Robin Turner, Western Mail, 12/111/2010.

Some Wales related new briefs:
Wales set to ban the display of tobacco products..;
Wales - One in five women in Wales smoke while pregnant..;
Wales - Smoking 'costs NHS £1m (1.6m USD) each day'..;
Wales council imposes blanket ban on smokers adopting or fostering children..;
England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..;
Wales - still easy for youngsters to buy cigarettes..;