Over the past six months the coalition government has often spoken about putting "freedom" at the heart of decision-making. A ‘nanny state’ approach to influencing consumer choices on issues like smoking is not, however, a way of achieving this.
As a result of the point of sale display restrictions imposed under the Health Act 2009, the right of an adult to walk into a shop such as mine and choose the type of tobacco they wish to purchase is now under threat.
Here are some reasons why this piece of legislation (introduced by the previous government) should not be included in the coalition's upcoming White Paper on health:
- It would bring about a growth in the illicit cigarette market. If people cannot see these products when they come in shops, they will seek cheaper alternative routes to buy cigarettes.
- There will be a migration from small shops to larger supermarkets that are able stock more products.
- It is widely accepted that approximately 33% of other sales in retailer shops are a result of sales of tobacco. Small shops stand to massively lose out if people do not go to them to buy cigarettes.
- Many shops will go the wall simply because the excessive cost of changing the shop gantries.
- And, most importantly, what about one’s own freedom to choose? After all, tobacco is a perfectly legal product!
Mahendra Jadeja is a successful independent retailer and a former president of the National Federation of Retailers and Newsagents (NFRN).
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