Department of Health

Under strict embargo until 00.01 on 28 December: 100 days until end of tobacco displays

Press release   •   Dec 28, 2011 13:44 GMT

 With just 100 days to go before tobacco displays in supermarkets must be removed, retailers are today reminded that they need to start getting their shops in order.

From 6 April 2012, large shops will no longer be able to display tobacco products to the public except on occasions for instance when staff are serving customers or when they are carrying out stock control or cleaning.

Customers will still be able to buy cigarettes in the usual way but the Government is ending tobacco displays to protect young people who are often the target of tobacco promotion. Ending open cigarette displays will help people trying to quit smoking and help to change attitudes and social norms around smoking.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

"Smoking kills over 80,000 people in England each year — making it one of the biggest preventable causes of premature death."

“We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by tobacco promotion. Two thirds of smokers say they were already regular smokers before they turned 18. More than 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year. Ending tobacco displays in shops will protect young people from unsolicited promotions, helping them resist the temptation to start smoking. It will also help and support adults who are trying to quit.”

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Tobacco Control, said:

“Cancer Research UK welcomes this important first step towards removing tobacco displays from shops. Selling cigarettes alongside sweets and crisps makes them seem like a normal, everyday product rather than a deadly and addictive drug. It’s vital that everything is done to put tobacco out of sight and out of mind to protect future generations of children. Half of all long-term smokers will die from a tobacco related disease, and most become addicted as teenagers. Lung cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK with more than eight out of 10 cases caused by smoking.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) said:

"For far too long, large, colourful tobacco displays right by the sweets in shops have promoted cigarettes to children and made smoking seem part of everyday life. Removing these displays is a critical element of the Government's comprehensive strategy to protect children from the harm caused by tobacco. Retailers have nothing to fear, the evidence from Ireland when the legislation was implemented there was that committed smokers still knew where to buy cigarettes and didn't need to see the displays to decide what they wanted to buy."

Notes to Editors:

  • For media enquiries, please contact the Department of Health news desk on 020 7210 5221. Members of the public should call 020 7210 4850.
  • The tobacco display provisions in the Health Act 2009 and related regulation will be implemented for large shops from April 2012 and for all other shops from April 2015.
  • The regulations will commence on 6 April 2012 for large shops – those with a floor area of more than 280 square metres.
  • Retailers with any queries about how the law will operate should approach their local authority trading standards department.
  • The Government carefully reviewed the need for legislation ending tobacco displays and believes the proposed way forward represents a fair balance between advancing public health and supporting businesses during these challenging times.