By Francesca James

As of yesterday (Monday), a new law means large shops and supermarkets will be banned from displaying tobacco. The ban is aimed at reducing the uptake of smoking among young people in particular, by reducing the visual temptation of cigarettes on display.

The law will extend to smaller shops, bulk tobacconists and specialist tobacconists, in April 2015. As of yesterday, large retailers will no longer be able to have cigarettes and other tobacco products on display, except when staff are serving customers and carrying out tasks such as restocking.

Tobacco price lists will also look different. A plain A3 price list with no tobacco branding can be shown at the point of sale, with an illustrated price list available to customers on request. Customers may be asked for proof of age before being shown the illustrated list.

The new law will be enforced by local trading standards officials, and non -compliance is a criminal offence. Anyone found guilty could face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to two years in prison.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

“Smoking remains a huge risk to public health in Wales. Around 20 per cent of our NHS admissions are related to smoking, at a cost of more than £1million a day.

“Our aim is to reduce smoking levels in Wales to 16% by 2020 with an ultimate vision of a smoke-free society, in which the harm from tobacco is completely eradicated.

“We know that young people can be influenced by seeing cigarettes on display, and that they can tempt adults who are trying to give up the habit.

“We see this new law as an important part of our drive to tackle the harm caused by smoking. If we can prevent young people from ever taking up smoking, we can give future generations a better chance of a healthy life.”

Welcoming the display ban, Ken Yorston, Chair of Wales Heads of Trading Standards added

‘We see the removal of tobacco from retail display as being a key factor in driving down the level of underage sales of tobacco products across Wales.

Trading Standards Services will be working closely with businesses to help them satisfy the new legislation, both now for large shops and in the run up to April 2015 when the remaining sectors of the retail trade will have to comply.’