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[UK] POST IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW OF TOBACCO LEGISLATION

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations apply to the display of tobacco products in small and large shops (display ban) and came into force on 6 April 2012 in larger shops and 6 April 2015 for all other outlets. The regulations prohibit the display of tobacco products in small and large shops, allowing trading to continue but preventing them from being used as promotional tools. All retailers are required to cover up cigarettes and hide all tobacco products from public view.

The full Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legislation.gov.uk

1. Do you think the display ban of tobacco in small and large shops has helped to reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or not.

Current scientific evidence points to the fact that smoking susceptibility amongst young people has dropped following the introduction of the display ban on tobacco in small and large shops. 

A decrease in smoking susceptibility does not necessarily equate to a decline in smoking rates, since this decrease also correlates with a number of other factors, on both the regulatory and the educational side, as well as innovations such as harm-reducing products. A negative side-effect of a display ban can be that smoking is perceived as an ominous and secretive act, which encourages certain youth to pick it up. In a comparable fashion, illicit narcotic substances are also purchased in large numbers by youths, without any advertising or display. We know through evidence in countries that have legalised or decriminalised these substances (particularly in the case of cannabis) that youth consumption rates normalise as the handling of the substance reaches social acceptance.

It would be ill-advised for the government to recreate the bad side-effects of prohibition in the case of tobacco. 

2. Do you think the tobacco display ban has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or not.

Scientific evidence presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) points to the example of New Zealand, where a display ban coincided with a decrease in smoking prevalence from 9% to 7%.

Correlation does not mean causation. The measure also has overlap with both the regulatory and educational measures, as well as innovations such as harm-reducing products. Further scientific research in the United Kingdom would be necessary to determine whether a decline in adult smoking cessation can be related to display bans.

3. What impact do you think the display ban has had on:

(a) general population

(b) retailers

(c) manufacturers

(d) other stakeholders

For consumers, the implementation of a display ban reduces the amount of information available for tobacco. Cigarettes are a legal product in the United Kingdom, yet consumers are now unable to identify differences between brands and are unexposed to new upcoming products. Added to that, a display ban creates uncertainty on the legal market, as the practice of selling cigarettes “under the counter” is equally present in the case of retailers engaging in the sales of illicit cigarettes.

Some of our members have reported to us to have received counterfeit products when purchasing cigarettes in UK corner stores. The display ban might make it easier for vendors of counterfeit cigarettes to hide their illicit products from consumers and law enforcement until the moment of sale.

4. Is the display ban an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit?

Answer: No, I don’t think it is.

Given the insufficient amount of evidence on the question of effectiveness and the clear risks that the Consumer Choice Center has listed in an answer on the impact of the display ban, we do not believe that the measures constitute an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with implementing the display ban on tobacco products?

Answer: Yes, I think there were some economic losses or gains.

With a loss in brand awareness and the creation of consumer uncertainty on the legal market, the Consumer Choice Center believes that a loss in consumer choice has been created by the display ban. We also think that this has fuelled the shadow economy and allowed vendors with bad intentions to sell more illegal cigarettes to consumers.


The Tobacco and Advertising (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations apply to the display of tobacco products in Specialist Tobacconists and came into force on 6th April 2015.

These regulations provide exemptions for specialist tobacconists to the general prohibition of the display of tobacco products. They allow tobacco products to be displayed within specialist tobacconists as long as they are not visible from outside the shops. Additionally, the legislation permits tobacco advertising provided it is in, or fixed to the outside of premises of a specialist tobacconist and complies with prescribed conditions.

The full Tobacco and Advertising (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legilsation.gov.uk.

1. Do you think the display ban of tobacco in specialist tobacconists has helped to reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Current scientific evidence has analysed the situation in regular commercial establishments. The purpose of a specialist tobacconist shop is to sell tobacco, with other items for sale being proportionally secondary. Evidence would need to be gathered in order to make concrete statements on the effect of the display ban in this instance.

2. Do you think the display ban in specialist tobacconists has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Current scientific evidence has analysed the situation in regular commercial establishments. The purpose of a specialist tobacconist shop is to sell tobacco, with other items for sale being proportionally secondary. Evidence would need to be gathered in order to make concrete statements on the effect of the display ban in this instance.

3. Has the display ban within specialist tobacconists had any further impacts not covered in the questions above?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Provided the exemptions in the current law surrounding display bans, the case of specialist tobacconists is different from regular retailers and needs to be examined separately.

4. Is the display ban in specialist tobacconists an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit?

Answer: I don’t know whether it is or it is not effective.

Provided the exemptions in the current law surrounding display bans, the case of specialist tobacconists is different from regular retailers and needs to be examined separately.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were or not economic losses or gains.

Given the insufficient amount of evidence on the question of effectiveness, and the clear risks that the Consumer Choice Center has listed in an answer on the impact of the display ban, we do not believe that the measures constitute an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.


The Tobacco and Advertising (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations impose requirements on the display of prices of tobacco products in small and large shops and came into force on 6th April 2015.

The regulations permit only three types of tobacco price displays within retailers:

  1. Poster style lists (up to A3 in size) which can be permanently on show but must not exceed 1,250sq centimetres in size
  2. A list including pictures of products, which must not be left on permanent show, but can be shown to any customer aged 18 or over who asks for information on tobacco products sold; and
  3. Price labels, which can be placed on shelving, storage units or tobacco jars. One price label is permitted for each product either on the covered shelf where the product is stored or on the front of the storage unit.

The full Tobacco and Advertising (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legislation.gov.uk

1. Have the restrictions on the display of prices of tobacco products helped reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if they have or have not.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

2. Have the restrictions on the display of prices of tobacco products helped encourage and support adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if they have or have not.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

3. What impact do you think the restriction of display of prices of tobacco products has had on the following:

(a) general population

(b) retailers

(c) manufacturers

(d) other stakeholders (please specify)

Please give reason(s) and evidence for your answers.

Restricting price indications at retail deprives consumers of information about tobacco, a product which can be purchased legally with some restrictions in the United Kingdom. Consumers are vulnerable to be misled by retailers about the product they are buying, and are not afforded the necessary transparency to make an informed purchase.

4. Is restricting the display of prices of tobacco products an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and support those who wish to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it is or is not effective.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were economic losses or gains.

Restricting price indications at retail deprives consumers of information about tobacco, a product which can be purchased legally with some restrictions in the United Kingdom. Consumers are vulnerable to be misled by retailers about the product they are buying, and are not afforded the necessary transparency to make an informed purchase.


The Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015

The regulations came into force as of 1st October 2015 and apply in England. Regulation 5; penalties and discounted amount also applies in Wales.  These regulations make it an offence for:

  • A person to smoke in a private vehicle when someone under the age of 18 is present
  •  A driver not to stop a person smoking when someone under the age of 18 is present.

The regulations are thought to have minimal impact in business. Police Authorities are the designated enforcement offices, with the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) to anyone found to be non-compliant with the law.

The full Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015 are published on Legislation.gov.uk.

1. Have the Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations helped prevent people from smoking in vehicles with children?

Answer: No, I don’t think they have.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. Existing evidence from Portugal showed that despite widespread support for the regulation, “high smoking prevalence and poor enforcement contribute to low compliance”.

2. What impact do you think Smoke free (Private Vehicles) Regulations have had on: general public, retailers, manufacturers, other stakeholders (please specify)

The Consumer Choice Center believes that though the intent of the legislation is commendable, the costs involved with enforcing the measure thoroughly far exceed the benefits. Law enforcement work on lifestyle matters should be focused on preventing sales of tobacco to young people, and combating illicit trade.

3. Do you believe prohibiting smoking in private vehicles is an effective way to protect children and young people from harms of tobacco and second-hand smoke?

Answer: I don’t know if it is or if is not.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. The question is not whether smoking in private vehicles is unhealthy to children and young people from a health perspective, but whether legislation is the correct approach to solving this issue. A prohibition on this matter can also lead to complicated law enforcement situations. A family car that smells of tobacco because the parent smoked in the vehicle prior to picking up children could offset a fine, even though the driver did not break the law.

We believe that education through the schooling system is the correct way to pursue public health objectives.

4. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were economic losses or gains.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. Existing evidence from Portugal showed that despite widespread support for the regulation, “high smoking prevalence and poor enforcement contribute to low compliance”.

Increased law enforcement in this area would increase costs for taxpayers.

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