Press release

Putting smoke out of sight and out of mind

End of tobacco displays in shops from today

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


New legislation comes into effect today (Friday 6 April) to protect children from being the target of tobacco promotion and to help people quit smoking.

From today, all large shops and supermarkets inEnglandwill have to cover up cigarettes and hide tobacco products from public view.

Evidence shows that cigarette displays in shops can lure young people to start smoking. More than eight million people inEnglandstill smoke - it is one of biggest preventable killers causing more than 80,000 deaths each year. Nearly two-thirds of current and ex-smokers say they started smoking before they were 18.

Up until now, every time parents do their weekly shop their children are exposed to tobacco, making it a normal part of everyday life. Statistics show:

  • Five per cent of children aged 11-15 are regular smokers;
  • More than 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year; and
  • 39 per cent of smokers say that they were smoking regularly before the age of 16.

Covering tobacco displays will protect children and young people from the promotion of tobacco products in shops, helping them to resist the temptation to start smoking. It will also help and support adults who are trying to quit.

Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by colourful, eye-catching, cigarette displays. Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and we need to stop this trend.

“Banning displays of cigarettes and tobacco will help young people resist the pressure to start smoking and help the thousands of adults inEnglandwho are currently trying to quit.”

**Jo Butcher, programme director of health and well-being at the National Children’s Bureau, said: **

“National Children’s Bureau welcomes the end of tobacco displays.

“Children and young people tell us that outside influences make it even more difficult for them to choose healthier lifestyles. A yet to be released National Children’s Bureau health survey has found that more than one in four young people felt they needed more information about the health effects of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

“It’s essential that we create a culture that promotes and protects public health and tobacco legislation is a significant factor in making this happen.”

Cigarettes and all tobacco products will have to be out of sight except when staff are serving customers or carrying out other day-to-day tasks such as restocking.  Those responsible in shops not complying with the law could be fined up to £5,000 or could face imprisonment.


Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries, please contact the Department of Health news desk on 020 7210 5221.

The tobacco display provisions in the Health Act 2009 and related regulations will be implemented for large shops from April 2012 and for all other shops and businesses selling tobacco to the public from April 2015.

The regulations will commence on 6 April 2012 for large shops - those with a relevant floor area of more than 280 square metres.  This is based on the current definition in the current Sunday Trading law which is already familiar to many retailers.

Retailers with any queries about how the law will operate should approach their local authority trading standards department.

A factsheet and Guidance for retailers and local trading standards authorities  has been written by the Local Government Regulatory Support Unit with the Department of Health and in consultation with the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores.  The guidance is available on Businesslink website.

The Government 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 (particularly small retailers) during these challenging times.

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England is available on the Department of Health website.

Published 6 April 2012