News Release26 April 2010
Judicial review sought on tobacco display ban
British American Tobacco said today its UK subsidiary, two retailers and a German cigarette manufacturer are seeking a judicial review of the Government’s ban on the display of tobacco products in shops.
The Health Act 2009 requires cigarettes, cigars, pipe and roll-your-own tobacco to be hidden from view in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from October 2011 in large retailers and October 2013 in smaller outlets.
Michelle Healy, General Manager, British American Tobacco UK Limited, said: “The display ban will damage both competition and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of small businesses by imposing high compliance costs on them. Driving the legal trade from public view will also play into the hands of illegal traders.
“These unwelcome effects are unjustified as there is no credible evidence that it will reduce smoking rates in the UK.”
British American Tobacco believes the display ban will prevent manufacturers from communicating to consumers the most basic product information and is anti-competitive under EU law as it will be impossible to tell consumers about new products available for sale.
Many newsagents and convenience stores have protested strongly against the ban. They are worried about loss of trade to supermarkets - which smokers may perceive as stocking more brands - or to counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes in a flourishing black market.
They are also concerned about costly shop point-of-sale refits and the impact on efficient customer service and security.
British American Tobacco’s co-plaintiffs are Portland Food and Wine, owner of six London convenience stores, Harendra Bhatt who owns one store in North London and German cigarette maker Tobacco Management & Consulting Company which had to abandon plans to enter the UK market in light of the new regulations.
Hemang Patel of Portland Food and Wine said: “We are responsible retailers and we do not sell to minors. Why are we the ones being punished like this simply for selling a legal product? The display ban regulations are complex, will be difficult to comply with and our efficient customer service will suffer.”
Leading barrister Lord Pannick QC has been instructed to represent British American Tobacco and the co-plaintiffs in their application.
British American Tobacco Press Office
David Betteridge / Kate Matrunola / Catherine Armstrong
+44 (0) 20 7845 2888 (24 hours)
Ralph Edmondson / Maya Farhat
+44 (0) 20 7845 1180 / 1519