TOBACCO DISPLAYS AND ADVERTISING – COUNTDOWN TO NEW REQUIREMENTS
Businesses and the general public are reminded by the OFT that from 1st July 2016, it will be illegal for retailers to openly display tobacco products, except in limited circumstances, such as when serving them to customers aged 18 and over, during restocking or during training.
This new requirement applies to all businesses selling tobacco products to the public, not just to shops, but also to ‘on-trade’ licensed premises such as pubs and clubs.
We would emphasise that this is not a ban on sales of tobacco products. Customers should still be able to buy their tobacco products where they do now, but they will not see tobacco products on open display. Retailers will have to keep tobacco products where they are not visible to customers, for example, in storage units behind curtains or sliding doors.
In the absence of open displays of tobacco products, customers aged 18 or over will still be able to request their usual brand or a price list at the point of sale. Retailers will be permitted to display one A3 poster and can also display prices on the covered shelving or front of storage units.
From the 1st July, it will also be illegal to sell tobacco products from vending machines (automatic machines) and for service providers in the Isle of Man to advertise tobacco products on the internet.
Non-compliance with any of the new requirements will be a criminal offence. Any person found guilty of an offence is liable to a substantial fine and/or a prison sentence of up to two years.
Businesses should already be taking steps to ensure compliance and make their staff aware of the new requirements.
While the OFT would obviously prefer to work with businesses to ensure compliance, enforcement action will be taken if any business is found to be flagrantly disregarding the new requirements.
For more information about the new requirements, including a pictorial guide and a question and answer guide, visit www.gov.im/oft/tradingstandards/agerestrict/tobacco or contact the OFT on 686500.
David Quirk MHK, Chairman of the OFT, said:
‘The main reason for prohibiting the display of tobacco products is to protect children and young people from the promotion of tobacco. Large displays normalise tobacco use for children, and create a perception that tobacco is easily obtainable. Research shows that children exposed to tobacco displays are more likely to start smoking. Tobacco displays have also been shown to trigger impulse buying when people are trying to quit, resulting in relapse. We hope the new legislation decreases the number of young people taking up smoking and creates a supportive environment for those wishing to quit smoking.’