Packs of cigarettes and other tobacco products will be removed from the shelves in the supermarkets across Great Britain from Friday, as the latest legislation prohibiting their display in shops enters into effect.
Tobacco products will be stored hidden in closed shelves or under the counter according the stringent anti-smoking regulation implemented in England.
The measure obliges all supermarkets and large stores to remove cigarette displays at the points of their sale with allowed temporary displays under “particular limited circumstances”.
The law’s implementation was postponed until April 2015 for small shops, newsagents and tobacco stores in order to give them enough time to re-designate their venues.
Lawmakers claim that banning tobacco from displays will help to discourage teenagers and young adults from taking up smoking habit.
But opponents state the new legislation, introduced on last year’s No Smoking Day, was another manifestation of the nanny state politics and would do nothing but grow the burden of shop owners.
Only several counties across the world have implemented similar measures, including Norway, Iceland, Thailand and Ireland.
The law enters into force in spite of strong opposition by major tobacco companies, including Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, which were considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the ban several months ago.
Although arguing the prohibition was excessive, would contribute to tobacco smuggling, and violated European Union competition agreements, Big Tobacco admitted a legal challenge was fruitless and refused their intention.
Simon Burns, the Junior Minister of Health, is one of the 10 million of adult smokers in Great Britain.
David Cameron has confirmed he was smoking until giving up several months ago, whereas Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, declared last November that he had given up smoking after lighting up for 25 years.
The nationwide smoking rates have also dropped to 21 percent of adult population down from 45 percent of smokers reported in 1974. Tobacco consumers annually pay £11 billion in taxes to the Treasury.
Lawmakers hope that with the new anti-smoking measures, smoking rates among adults will drop to 18.5 percent by 2016, which would leas to nearly 210,000 fewer adults smoking each year.
Great Britain has already implemented some of the most stringent anti-smoking laws across the world.
Tobacco advertisements were prohibited in 2002, smoking in public places was banned in 2007, and graphic warning labels were required on cigarettes packs in 2008.
In addition, cigarette vending machines were as banned last October as well.
The Prime Minister confirmed he would oppose any further measure to restrict tobacco, including ban on smoking in cars where adolescents are present.
Anne Milton, the Minister of Health, defended the legislation, saying that young people are lured into smoking by eye-catching cigarette packs, so they had to change that grievous practice.
“Prohibiting displays of tobacco products will encourage young people be able to resist the pressure to try cigarettes and help those people who are trying to stop smoking.”