Costs of a Tobacco Display Ban Remain Unanswered

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has criticised Scottish Government Ministers ahead of the Stage 3 debate on the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill (27th Jan 2009) for asking MSPs to support a tobacco display ban despite there still being no accurate estimate of the cost of compliance.

SGF Chief Executive John Drummond said: “A tobacco display ban would impose a substantial regulatory burden on retailers yet it is still unclear from both the Bill and the draft regulations how tobacco should be stored to comply with the display ban.

“The Minister has proposed regulations that are the most draconian of their type anywhere in the world, yet suggests to MSPs that a storage solution could cost as little as £20 for materials. SGF believe it is misleading for the Government to continue to refer to £20 when they accept that it referred only to the cost of materials per shelf and not per gantry.

“Once design, durable materials, professional fitting, store disruption, sustainable disposal methods and staffing costs are considered we fear the true cost of implementing a display ban will rise significantly, back in the direction of the Government’s official estimate.

“The tobacco display ban is a policy gimmick that will impose costs and disruption on retailers at the worst possible time. The evidence that this will actually stop young people smoking just isn’t there.”

Mr Drummond has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to amend the Bill to make it an offence both for a person under the age of 18 to attempt to purchase tobacco and for an adult to purchase tobacco on behalf of a child: “We remain convinced that proper deterrents to those that are complicit in giving tobacco to children together with effective measures to tackle the illicit trade and increased education would be more effective than a display ban.”