Tobacco display ban

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A tobacco display ban, point-of-sale display ban or retail display ban is a measure imposed in some jurisdictions prohibiting shops and stores to display tobacco products.

Tobacco display bans are in place in several countries: Canada, Croatia, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Thailand, Finland, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The implementation differs, but the ban in most jurisdictions mandates that shops and stores that sell tobacco products keep the products out of sight of customers, under the counter, or in special cabinets. Tobacco products can only be shown on request from customers. The idea behind the regulation is that people would be less inclined to smoke if they can not see the products.

The long term effects of these policies cannot be proven as insufficient evidence currently exists. Some studies have been undertaken and others are ongoing.

Opponents of the ban claim that the regulations have caused shops to close as a result of costs associated with the ban, and that the bans have caused the proportion of illegal or 'contraband' cigarettes sold to increase. Following the ban in Canada, 27 per cent of cigarettes sold are illegal.[1] and 15 per cent of convenience stores have closed.[2] In Iceland 30 per cent of smaller shops have closed.[3] It is not yet clear whether the shop closures were linked to the tobacco display ban or the significant wider economic issues affecting Iceland during the period in question. One study states that teenage smoking levels in Thailand, increased in the period following the ban.[4] - a causative link between the ban and the increase has not been demonstrated.

Proponents of tobacco display bans argue that some of the stores have closed for other reasons, such as the prevailing economic conditions or a downward trend in smoking levels. Proponents point to the lack of evidence to prove significant negative unintended consequences. They note that the few studies that have been undertaken at best show a correlation between certain trends, but stress that does not prove causation between the ban and alleged increases in shop closures, nor smoking levels.

On 18 March 2013, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a retail display ban for cigarettes.[5][6]

In the August 2010 issue of Pediatrics it is argued that young people who visit tobacco stores frequently smoke more often than their peers.

Country or dependency Notes and date of implementation
Australia Retail display ban now in all states and territories with the exception of specialist tobacconists
Canada Display ban now in place for all provinces and territories with Saskatchewan being the first in 2005. The most recent legislation coming into force in Labrador and Newfoundland on 1 January 2010. Ontario banned the display of tobacco products from 31 May 2008 and Alberta and British Columbia in the summer of 2008.
Croatia Display of tobacco products banned from 1 July 2014
Finland Display of tobacco products banned from 1 January 2012
Iceland First country in the world to implement a shop display ban for tobacco in 2001
Ireland First country in the EU to implement a display ban which came into effect on 1 July 2009
Kosovo A full retail display ban came into force on 24 June 2013
New Zealand Tobacco display ban came into force on 23 July 2012
Norway Since 1 January 2010 the display of tobacco products has been prohibited
Russia Display of tobacco products banned from 1 July 2014
Thailand Display ban came into effect in 2005
United Kingdom England - Retail shops (>280 sq m)- 6 April 2012. Smaller shops (<280 sq m) - 6 April 2015[7]
Northern Ireland - Retail shops (>280 sq m) - 31 October 2012. Smaller shops (<280 sq m) - 6 April 2015
Wales - Retail shops (>280 sq m) - 3 December 2012. Smaller shops (<280 sq m) - 6 April 2015
Scotland - Retail shops (>280 sq m) - 29 April 2013. Smaller shops (<280 sq m) - 6 April 2015

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada, 2008 "Estimating the volume of contraband sales of tobacco in Canada"
  2. ^ PriceWaterhouseCoopers/HEC Montreal 2009 "Local Presence, national strength: Convenience stores in Canada"
  3. ^ The Telegraph "Government wins vote on banning tobacco products from shops" 2008-05-07
  4. ^ Basham, Patrick (July 2010). "Canada's ruinous tobacco display ban: economic and public health lessons". IEA Discussion Paper No. 29. Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Bloomberg's Plan Would Make Stores Conceal Cigarettes". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg bids to ban cigarettes and tobacco from being displayed in any stores". The New York Daily News. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Full implementation of display ban in the United Kingdom". BBC. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.