/ Health, Shopping

Should cigarettes be forced under shop counters?


From 2012 smokers won’t be able to see cigarettes in shops, with new laws ordering that tobacco be kept under shop counters. Do you think it’s right to put cigarettes out of sight?

And, perhaps more importantly, will this put smoking out of mind?

On No Smoking Day the Department of Health confirmed that cigarettes and other tobacco products would soon be forced under shop counters in England, with Scotland, Wales and Ireland to follow.

The ban, however, has been delayed until April 2012 for large shops and supermarkets, with smaller newsagents and tobacconists following in April 2015.

Out of sight, out of mind?

Exiling ciggies under shop counters follows a raft of recent anti-smoking laws in England. Cigarette advertising was banned in 2002, smoking was outlawed from public places in 2007 and cigarette vending machines will also be prohibited later this year.

The government added that it still had an open mind as to whether to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes. However, some experts are concerned that such packets could make it easier for tobacco fraudsters to pass off their cigs as legitimate.

As far as putting tobacco out of sight, health experts have said banning cigarette displays in shops will help reduce the number of under-16s who start smoking every year – this number currently stands at 300,000.

Professor John Britton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group, even urged the government to bring the measures forward:

‘We cannot underestimate the harm caused by smoking and urge the government to reconsider delaying the display ban.’

A ban on smokers?

But not everyone supports putting tobacco under the counter. Some groups claim that it will impose too much cost on shopkeepers. UKIP leader Nigel Farage even argues that ‘it could end up doing to corner shops what the smoking ban did to country pubs – put them to the wall.’

Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, responded by maintaining that the ban wouldn’t have any affect at all:

‘It is yet another heavy-handed and costly intervention by government that will hurt businesses and, as many studies have shown, will do nothing to lower smoking prevalence.’

Do you support the government’s decision to banish cigarettes and other tobacco products under shop counters? And what do you think about introducing plain cigarette packaging?

Should cigarettes be forced under shop counters?

Yes (60%, 122 Votes)

No (40%, 81 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

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As far as I’m concerned – smoking should be banned outright – as it is a bad influence to all and a health hazard.

But it won’t make any difference – the vast majority of people don’t go into a shop and simply are attracted by the display. They go in wanting to buy cigarettes. People smoke because peers smoke.

Even if they were banned – all that would happen is a truly vast increase in cigarette smuggling – (around 10% of those smoked now are smuggled already)

What is required are TV programmes where the use of cigarettes is castigated. Not documentaries – but soap operas where smoking is portrayed as dangerous and anti social. At the moment and in the past – cinema and TV smoking is portrayed as something .sexy and to be copied.

I started smoking at 6 – suffered nicotine poisoning – but encouraged by friends to continue – eventually gave up at 45 – by deciding to give up one day.


Perhaps not having smokers in TV programmes at all would be a better option? Actively castigating it may look a little contrived. And you started smoking at 6 years old? Talk about starting early… sorry to hear that.


Patrick – castigation can be done subtly

I started smoking when conditions in my country became incredibly stressful (friends were dying in droves). Haven’t you noticed how many children smoke in war zones?


Don’t force it ‘underground/counter’. Instead, whack up the tax even more on cigarettes to help fund the health service that picks up the pieces of this disgusting habit. And, if there’s anything left, a small contribution to the rest of the economy to fill one small part of the gaping hole would be quite nice too.


Sorry – what will happen if prices are raised even more – is smuggling will increase – reducing the taxes to health and country.

The reason why so many cigarettes are already smuggled (10% of consumption) is because £5 for 20 is too much for some to pay. There is evidence that cigarettes are not only smuggled but actually faked. Causing even more illness.

If the price rises – more people will be robbed to pay for cigarettes – just as they are robbed now to pay for other drugs.

Only the comfortably off will be able to afford to smoke – but affordability is not the reason most people stop – they will stop if smoking is considered “uncool” – If they are expensive they will still be considered “cool” and be smoked..


That’s an interesting idea Fat Sam, but as Richard says it’ll likely increase counterfeit cigarettes.

Both of you have yet to choose a side though – if you HAD to choose between cigarettes being put under shop counters or not (with no changes to anything else) what side would you come down on?


Patrick – I would vote for under counter cigarettes – but it will not be effective. I know “out of sight out of mind” is an old saying – but it isn’t true.

The vast vast majority of people are introduced to smoking by peers – not displays. To go to a shop and say “20 Players Please” is no more difficult with a display than without.


Australia has become the first country to implement plain and ‘no-frills’ packs for cigarettes. Good idea or bad idea? http://www.news.com.au/business/cigarette-packets-to-ugly-olive-green/story-e6frfm1i-1226035049025


Anti smoking ads should show photographs of people who are dying of lung cancer, etc. A short summary of the case history would help too.