As From 6th April 2015, it became against the law to openly display tobacco products in all retail premises, including shops, bars and clubs.
The new legislation is just one of a range of measures being introduced in order to reduce the appeal and uptake of smoking amongst children and young people.
Health Minister, Jim Wells, said: “Studies have shown that children and young people are particularly susceptible to advertising, and those exposed to tobacco marketing and promotion are more likely to take up smoking. Following tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, gantries in shops have become increasingly more prominent and could now be viewed as a source of promotion to adults and children alike.
“Given that the majority of smokers take up the habit in their teens, it is vital that we act to protect children from becoming hooked on tobacco before they are old enough to fully understand the consequences. We also know that most smokers want to quit and this measure will support those attempting to quit by putting tobacco products out of sight.”
Most regular smokers are brand loyal and few are influenced to switch brands as a result of tobacco displays. However, such displays do prompt impulse purchases particularly by young people and recent quitters.
Retailers have been aware of the changes to the law for some time and will be supported by local council Environmental Health Officers in making their displays compliant. While failure to comply may result in legal action, this is unlikely, at least initially, if the business is unaware of the legislation or has made a genuine attempt to cover the display.
Legislation banning displays in large shops and supermarkets came into effect in Northern Ireland from 31 October 2012. Smaller shops have been given longer to comply to allow them to learn from the experiences of larger shops in terms of adopting cost-effective solutions.
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