The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has reacted with extreme disappointment to measures included in the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill which require retailers to remove tobacco from display. This decision will lead to considerable costs and disruption for retailers already struggling with the economic downturn and is founded on an immature argument that tobacco displays are the primary reason young people take up smoking.
SGF has repeatedly expressed concern regarding the lack of compelling evidence supporting the introduction of display bans as a method of reducing youth smoking rates.
On the eve of the SGF Annual Conference, John Drummond, Chief Executive of SGF said,
“For the Scottish Government to launch a Bill to remove the display of tobacco in retail outlets in the same week as New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, decided not to proceed with a tobacco display ban, citing the lack of international evidence to support claims that a ban reduces smoking levels and the expense as the main reasons for reversing proposals, makes a mockery of the Scottish Government’s claim to be a friend of small shops.
“SGF has repeatedly warned the Government that a display ban will cost a typical convenience store between £5,000 and £10,000 just to modify their store.
“The Scottish Government’s argument that tobacco displays encourage young people to smoke is simplistic and immature. If they wanted to tackle this issue in a serious manner rather than primarily focussing on retailers to reduce youth smoking they would ensure adequate resources were available to target the shocking level of tobacco available on the black market and make it an offence for adults to provide tobacco to under-18s.
“SGF is concerned a ban is more likely to increase young people’s fascination in tobacco and could encourage smokers, who do not see tobacco on display in legitimate stores, to buy from rogue traders who are prepared to sell illicit products.”