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The primary aim of the tobacco control provisions in the Health Act 2009 (HA 2009) is to reduce smoking uptake among children whilst supporting those people who smoke and want to quit. Section 21 of the Act inserts new sections 7A and 7B into the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 (TAPA 2002) which prohibit tobacco displays in large and small shops.

Section 7A(1) of the TAPA 2002 provides that a person who in the course of a business displays tobacco products, or causes them to be displayed, in a place (as specified in regulations) is guilty of an offence. Section 7B(3) allows the appropriate minister to provide in regulations that no offence is committed if the display complies with requirements specified in the regulations.

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 (known as the ‘Tobacco Display regulations’) were made under powers given to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by the sections 7A and 7B of the TAPA 2002. The Regulations, which deal with the practicalities of shops implementing the prohibition of tobacco product displays, were amended by the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display and Specialist Tobacconists) (England) (Amendment) regulations 2012). In brief, the Regulations:

  • Enable retailers to make temporary, limited-size displays on request when selling a tobacco product to a customer aged 18 or over.
  • Provide for low-cost solutions to be used in covering tobacco displays in shops.
  • Permit bulk-tobacconists to display tobacco in designated tobacco display areas.

The Regulations came into force on 6 April 2012 for large shops and on 6 April 2015 for all other shops.

The requirements for specialist tobacconists in relation to the prohibition of the display of tobacco products are set out in separate regulations, the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010 (known as the ‘Specialist Tobacconists Regulations’). Subsequently amended by the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display and Specialist Tobacconists) (England) (Amendment) regulations 2012, the Regulations came into force on 6 April 2015. Under these Regulations, specialist tobacconists can display and advertise tobacco products inside their shops, provided they are not visible from outside.

This briefing considers in detail the scope and extent of the prohibition of tobacco displays in shops and the treatment of specialist tobacconists. It also considers recent calls for tighter regulation of the display of vaping products (e-cigarettes and e-liquids) in shops of all sizes to protect children and young people.

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