Cigarette adverts at shop counters 'must be banned'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cigarette displays at shop counters should be outlawed because they are encouraging people to smoke, the Government has been warned by trading standards enforcers.

The trading standards regulator, which co-ordinates enforcement through-out England and Wales, has told public health minister Caroline Flint that cigarette firms are undermining the law banning advertising with eye-catching displays.

The call for a clampdown comes as anti-tobacco campaigners produced photographs of displays that they say promote smoking. Tobacco advertising was banned three years ago, but a clause in the law allows cigarette firms to place displays half the size of an A4 piece of paper at shop tills.

The Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services has told the minister that it is "concerned at the prevalence of tobacco displays placed at the retail counter, which are cleverly designed to avoid the restrictions in permitted point of display advertising."

A government consultation on whether to ban under-18s from buying cigarettes has also prompted calls from health campaigners for fresh curbs on shop-based promotions of tobacco products.

However, the tobacco industry said that it was acting entirely legally.

"The fact is that the Tobacco Advertising Promotion Act put an end to all trade tobacco advertising and promotion," said Chris Ogden, director of trade and industry affairs at the Tobacco Manufacturers Association. "All that is left has been limited to an A5 size at the point of sale. The customer has already advanced to the till when they see such a thing.

"Tobacco is still a legal product and its use is still a matter of consumer choice."