REMOVING tobacco from supermarket shelves under new laws has not gone down well with traders and customers.
A week ago, all large shops in the country were forced to cover up cigarettes and tobacco products from public view after evidence showed that cigarette displays in shops can encourage young people to start smoking.
The Government believes covering them will help young people resist the temptation to start smoking. It is also hoped it will help adults who are trying to quit.
But around Swindon, smokers and non-smokers, shopkeepers and customers are feeling less confident.
Osman Khan is manager of Wyvern News, one of the many smaller shops which have to implement the changes in April 2015.
He said: “It is all a farce as far as I am concerned.
“If the Government wants people to stop smoking it has to stop tobacco being sold in to the country full stop. If they did that, I would agree with it. I think any retailer would stop selling them if they could, but it gets the customers in and buying other items.
“The Government makes 80 per cent profit on cigarettes but the retailers only make as little as three to six per cent. It is the most expensive investment in the shop but brings in the least amount of profit.
“As long as people know the cigarettes are behind the shutters or under the till they will still buy them.”
He added: “The biggest profit-maker for us is the e-cigarettes, which are flying off the shelves because the prices of normal cigarettes are going up and up so people are looking for a cheaper alternative. They are much healthier, so you can’t blame them.”
Smoker Brian Hutchens, 49, of Eldene, also felt the new rules would have little impact.
“If people want to smoke, they will continue to smoke regardless of whether the cigarettes can be seen or not,” he said.
“Younger people still know they can buy the cigarettes so they will keep buying them. It may have an impact a few years down the line but it certainly won’t change things for the time being.”
Cherry Jones, deputy director of public health at NHS Swindon, said: “Evidence shows that cigarette displays in shops can encourage young people to start smoking, whilst removing them reduces their overall visibility in people’s lives. Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and anything that can help reduce the number of young people starting to smoke will have a positive impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing.”