Dentists are being urged to lobby MPs following reports that the coalition government is considering repealing regulations to prohibit tobacco displays in shops.
The regulations – passed by the previous administration – also banned the sale of tobacco from vending machines.
The Tobacco Authority and Promotion (Display) Regulations 2010, passed in March 2010, bans retailers from displaying tobacco products openly at the point of sale – i.e. having cigarette packets in public view behind the counter.
Currently, large retailers are due to implement the new laws by October 2011 and small retailers by October 2013.
The regulations were pushed through at the tail end of the last government, but the Department of Health (DH) has confirmed the ban is under review.
The British Dental Association (BDA) is urging its members to contact their MPs – the Association is a member of the Smokefree Action Coalition – and is keen for the new rules to forge ahead.
A DH spokeswoman confirmed that the display ban is under review.
She said: ‘We are going to publish a White Paper on public health at the end of the year which will look at tobacco displays among other things, but it hasn’t been confirmed that the ban will be overturned. It is being reviewed as an ongoing discussion across government about public health.
‘We are consulting with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and other business groups to see how going ahead with the ban would impact on retail,’ she added.
The BDA’s call coincides with a new study that reveals that young people are influenced by the point-of-sale advertising of tobacco.
It is published in the journal, Health Promotion Practice, and was carried out by scientists from the University of Stirling.
The study suggests that children find such adverts attractive and thought that it is easy to purchase tobacco.