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Tobacco Display Ban FAQs

The following Assured Advice is issued to the Association of Convenience Stores Ltd by Surrey County Council and comes into effect from 26th May 2015.

The Tobacco Display Ban came into effect on 6th April 2012 for large stores, and 6th April 2015 for smaller stores. These regulations mean that it is now illegal to display tobacco products in store. A guide to the full regulations can be viewed here.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

Please note: Scotland’s regulations are different from England and Wales. The Scottish regulations can be viewed here.

Q: “Can I display signs which say ‘Tobacco sold here’ on the outside of my gantry/in store?”

A: Yes – Unbranded generic signs, such as ‘Tobacco sold here’, are permitted in any format. There is not a limit on the font size, size of the sign and there is no stipulation on the positioning of this notice.
It is still a legal requirement for retailers to display an A3 sign stating that it is illegal to make tobacco sales to people under the age of 18. These signs must continue to be displayed near to the point of sale of the tobacco products.

Q: “Can I use a different font from Helvetica for my price labels, lists and catalogues?”

 A: Yes – you must use black Helvetica or Arial plain type on a white background.
You may have:

  • One A3 poster entitled ‘tobacco products price list’ with the display of prices for tobacco products limited to the brand name and price with wording no larger than size 30 font.
  • A product catalogue, which is not displayed unless requested by someone over the age of 18, that has wording no larger than size 14 font and any pictures of products no larger than 50square cm (about the size of a standard cigarette packet).
  • Price labels on shelving, with one label per product, no larger than 9 square cm.

Q: “Does the tobacco display ban apply to the sale of tobacco products online?”

 A: No – the law on display does not apply to websites. Businesses will still be able to show tobacco products and their prices on their online shopping websites.

Q: “Does this law apply to wholesalers, such as cash and carry businesses?”

 A: If the cash and carry premises is open to people outside the tobacco trade (i.e. the public), then the new law on displaying tobacco products applies. A cash and carry business may meet the definition of a ‘bulk’ tobacconist and be able to display products in a separate tobacco area or room.

Q: “What if a customer asks to see the full range of tobacco products before they buy them?”

 A: It is not an offence to show a tobacco product to a person aged 18 or over who asks to buy a tobacco product, or who has asked for information about a tobacco product. This display is described in the legislation as a ‘requested display’. It is not an offence if other people in the shop (including children) see a tobacco product as a result of a ‘requested display’.

Q: “Are overhead tobacco gantries compliant with the tobacco display ban?”

 A: Yes – however, overhead gantries must not allow customers to see behind the till and have a view of the tobacco products.

Q: “Do I cover up smoking accessories, such as tobacco papers and lighters, as part of the tobacco display ban?”

A: Tobacco accessories, such as rolling papers, lighters, pipes, etc, can continue to be displayed and kept in public view. Retailers may need to consider new an arrangement if accessories are currently kept in the main gantry, as it is an offence to display tobacco products when retrieving a non-tobacco product for a customer.

Q: “My tobacco gantry has a shutter, but when opened, the display area is larger than 1.5m2. If I only store tobacco products within 1.5m2 of the gantry, and leave the rest empty, am I still compliant?”

A: The regulations specify that no offence is committed as long as the display of tobacco products in a storage unit does not exceed 1.5m2.

Q: “Can I use handheld tablets to display my tobacco price lists instead of printing them out?”

A: No this would not comply with Regulations. This is because there would not be any control over the size of the font and size of the list (as you can expand the size on a tablet), the tablet would place a border around the price list which is also not permitted.  It could also be argued that the tablet may include prices of other products

The above Assured Advice is issued to the Association of Convenience Stores Ltd (ACS) by Surrey County Council and comes into effect from 26th May 2015.  Retailers with any questions should contact ACS in the first instance on 01252 515001 or