A Government adviser on the proposals to ban the point-of-sale advertising of tobacco claims that such displays are an important marketing tool for cigarette brands.
Professor Gerard Hastings, Director of Stirling University and the Open University Institute for Social Marketing, was set to appear before a House of Lords committee to discuss the issue today (Wednesday).
The Government is looking to make retailers sell cigarettes from under the counter. This will be introduced under the Health Bill, which aims to improve public health and NHS services.
Professor Hastings believes that removing in-store displays will protect children. He says: “The nub of the issue is the display of the product at the point of sale, which has become more elaborate over the last few years as a result of the restrictions of other advertising.”
He adds that Cancer Research UK’s Teenage Tobacco Study, which has been ongoing since the late Nineties, shows how influential in-store displays are.
The research has shown that 50% of children surveyed can recall the shop displays. The gantry in the local shops is the single biggest source of information about tobacco that children know about.
Professor Hastings warns: “These displays in shops are acting as advertisements.”
The initial announcement made by Health Secretary Alan Johnson follows a consultation launched by the Department of Health in May last year as part of its push to discourage smoking, particularly among young teenagers.