Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

We successfully campaigned to cover up tobacco displays in shops and remove tobacco vending machines.

Why we campaigned 

Tobacco advertising was banned in 2002, yet attractive tobacco displays still existed in shops. Openly displaying tobacco next to sweets and crisps sent the message that smoking is a normal part of everyday life. 

Research has shown that by removing the displays, it would reduce the acceptance of smoking with young people. 

Vending machines were an easy way for young people to buy cigarettes, with 17% of 11-15 year olds citing vending machines as their ‘usual source’. By removing these machines altogether, underage smokers would be prevented from using these sources. See the latest figures on young people and smoking.

How we made it happen

In 2008 supporters responded to a Government consultation urging the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments to cover up tobacco displays at the point of sale, and remove tobacco vending machines. 

Along with celebrity supporters Sir Richard Branson and Konnie Huq, overwhelming support led to the Government passing new laws in 2009. 

However, after the General Election in 2010, the tobacco industry put pressure on the coalition Government not to bring in these laws. Over 1,300 campaigners then wrote to MPs, local papers and signed a petition showing support for the laws to make sure they would come in.

What we achieved

  • Laws passed to remove vending machines and tobacco display removals (2009 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; 2010 in Scotland)
  • In March 2011, the Government announced its new tobacco control plan for England
  • England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland: tobacco vending machines have been removed and displays are covered in large shops, with small shops removing them in April 2015.

The next stage of our campaign to protect children from tobacco marketing is plain, standardised packaging and for all UK nations to have comprehensive, long-term action plans to tackle tobacco use.

More information

You can find out more about tobacco on our healthy living and public policy pages.

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