Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Shops react to tobacco display ban

Sharlene Dennett
Sharlene Dennett doubts people's smoking habits will change much
Displays of cigarettes and tobacco are to be banned in England and Wales in an effort to discourage youngsters from taking up smoking, the government has announced.

The legislation will be brought in next year and the ban enforced by 2011, but, as the BBC found, shopkeepers are already planning what to put in the place of the prominent cigarette displays.


In Oxford Sharlene Dennett, of Martin and McColls Newsagent, is already thinking of how the space vacated by cigarettes will be used to maximum effect.

She said: "We'll probably put in more chocolates and promotions on Christmas decorations. Christmas is coming so we obviously need to push that more.

"I don't think it will have an impact on our business. Generally adults know what they smoke. They'll just come in and ask for their cigarettes and we'll just get them for them.

Ghalib Mohammad
Ghalib Mohammad says he makes little profit on cigarettes

"It's true that chocolate promotes obesity - so maybe we'll just have to put up the Christmas decorations instead!"

At Wendy News, Ghalib Mohammad supports the ban but is doubtful it will have the desired effect.

He said: "Once these cigarettes have gone, we'll put up healthy stuff. It's a good idea to move these cigarettes.

"The money goes to the government - only a small percentage comes to me. If I put them underneath the counter I'll still sell them. Maybe it will stop young people or teenagers from smoking. But I don't think so.

"If people give up, it's good for me. They buy one drink, I'll make as much profit as I would from 20 cigarettes."

Tim Gresswell, of Tim's Newsagents, is worried about the unintended consequences of the ban, like contraband.

He said: "I think we'll still have cigarettes behind the counter - but in closed cabinets. Either that or we'll have them below the counter. It may mean that there's more contraband coming into the country.

Tim Gresswell
Tim Gresswell is worried smuggled cigarettes will flood in

"We might display things like medicines or batteries. It's going to take a bit of thought. But still the cigarettes have got to go somewhere.

"It probably won't affect us too much. Nobody really knows what's going to happen. But because the cigarettes can't be displayed, there will be more illegal cigarettes sold because you can't see the packets with UK written on them. If more contraband cigarettes are coming in from abroad, that will affect the income for the government."

Sean Harris, of B&G News, is also doubtful about the ban's impact and he questioned whether the government had thought through all aspects of it.

He said: "I don't think it will have an impact on business as customers know what they want to buy anyway. The problem is that by law, they have to see the prices. How are we going to do that if they're under the counter?"


Mubarak Pax, who owns Euronews on Manchester's Oxford Road, said: "It's a waste of time changing the law. People will still buy cigarettes, change will only happen with a change of attitudes about smoking.

"We are in the city centre, surrounded by bars, so our trade won't be affected too much, because people will still go to the cash point and go and buy cigarettes during a night out."

Mubarak Pax
Mubarak Pax is sceptical the changes will have any impact on his sales

He added: "Our sales are always highest during the evening time."

And Mehmod Bhatti, who works in the Oxford Kiosk, said the space traditionally occupied by cigarettes would be given to other expensive items, such as medicines.

Mr Bhatti said: "We sell more cigarettes than anything else in this shop, I don't think that will change but customers will be bothered that they can't see what they can buy and the prices.

"We may lose sales if people don't want to stand around waiting to see what we have or haven't got."

He added: "But it won't stop sales too much because tobacco is addictive and not having them on display isn't going to change that."


In London's Marylebone area shopkeepers were a little more concerned about the potential impact of the ban on their businesses, and they questioned whether the government had the right target.

"Our future relies on this. We sell about 5,000 worth of cigarettes a week and we could lose that now with this ban," said Dinesh Shah of Falstaff News.

"Sales will go down on our speciality brands but even on our main brands we'll suffer too. This government doesn't know what it's doing. What about alcohol and 24-hour drinking? That makes people more crazy. At least with cigarettes you know what you're doing."

And Orlando Escobar of Alisha Shop on Dorset Road added: "It's not a good idea. There's a sign on my door, I don't sell to underage children and I always ask for identification. We're a small shop so this ban will be a problem."

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