Friday 11 December 2015

Tobacco display ban in shops from 2017

No more shop displays of tobacco items by 2017
By Yuen Sin, The Straits Times, 10 Dec 2015

By 2017, tobacco products will no longer be displayed in stores in Singapore, the Health Ministry announced yesterday.

Retailers will have to keep them out of sight and hand them to customers on request, in a bid to deter people from picking up the habit and help smokers to quit.

The point-of-sale display (POSD) ban will be implemented after a one-year grace period for retailers to comply with regulations after changes have been made to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act.

The amendments will likely be made by the middle of next year, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said yesterday.

All retailers will have to keep tobacco products out of sight at all times, unless re-stocking or selling them to a customer. They can keep them in self-closing, opaque boxes in a fixed location, or store them in an area that is not visible and accessible to the public.

WATCH: No Smoking! Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor explains the rationale for the Point-of-Sale tobacco ban, which will happen in 2017. More in our bulletins on air.
Posted by 938LIVE on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The possibility of a tobacco POSD ban was first mooted in 2013. Since then, 14 dialogue sessions with retailers, young people, parents and healthcare professionals have been conducted.

Dr Khor said the ministry will work with retailers to reduce the impact on their business.

Based on feedback from retailers, additional provisions have been made. For example, they will be allowed to include a text-only price list that can be shown to customers only upon request.

Studies have shown the display of tobacco products has a very strong promotional effect and can influence non-smokers to try out cigarettes, according to Dr Khor.

She said: "Smoking rates have gone down from 18.3 per cent in 1992 to 13.3 per cent in 2013. But smoking rates among young men are still high and the rates among young women are creeping up."

Iceland was the first country to introduce a tobacco POSD ban. This was imposed in 2001.

Tobacco display ban will affect sales, retailers say
Some are unsure whether they can be ready in time for new regulations by end-2017
By Yuen Sin, The Straits Times, 11 Dec 2015

A ban on the display of tobacco products in stores by the end of 2017 would hit their business, say tobacco retailers here.

While they understand the Government's position and would work with the authorities to ensure the smooth roll-out of the ban, some are unsure if they have enough time to adjust to the rules.

A lead time of at least 18 months would be "ideal", said a spokesman for convenience store chain 7-Eleven. "We are also facing constraints due to tight labour conditions and all retailers will likely be working with the same pool of (renovation) contractors to prepare for these changes," he added.

A spokesman for supermarket chain Sheng Siong said it is too early to say how much impact the ban would have on revenue.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday that retailers will be given a 12-month grace period to adjust to the new rules after amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act are made by the middle of next year. Under new rules, retailers can provide a standard format text-only price list. But tobacco products such as cigarettes must be kept out of sight except during sales transactions and re-stocking.

Mr Thomas Chua, president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said most of the 50 retailers who attended a MOH dialogue on Wednesday could air concerns about the ban.

"They have received information about the guidelines and can start preparing for the changes now, which gives them more than a year's notice," he said.

Still, he hopes MOH will be able to extend more help to retailers.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said retailers can consider offsetting compliance costs by implementing productivity improvement solutions supported by the authorities.

American tobacco giant Philip Morris Singapore said on its website that it does not support regulation "that imposes unnecessary impediments to the operation of the legitimate tobacco market" and opposes measures like POSD (point- of-sale display) bans.

But doctors were all for the ban.

Dr Ong Kian Chung, a respiratory medicine specialist, called it a "first step" that would decrease the availability of tobacco products to the public, especially youth.

Anti-smoking advocate and senior consultant respiratory physician Philip Eng said it will "probably help make access more difficult and deter impulsive buyers".

A study last year found that smoking rates among young people in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia dropped from 15 to 11 per cent between 2010 and 2012 after POSD bans came into force.

Research assistant Diana Lai, 23, who has been trying to quit smoking, has doubts about such a ban. "I feel the urge to smoke when I see others smoking, not when I see cigarette displays," she said.

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