Shopkeepers fuming over cigarette plan

Shopkeepers want to see a proposed ban on displaying Cigarettes stubbed out.

Shopkeepers want to see a proposed ban on displaying Cigarettes stubbed out. There are fears livelihoods could be affected if the Government plans are given the go-ahead and tobacco products are sold from under the counter. More than 1,000 independent retailers from across the country have already signed a petition for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It is hoped by not having Cigarettes on display More people will smoke less and children will be discouraged from starting. But Raxika Patel, owner of Surrey News, in Croydon High Street, is worried about the effect it could have on businesses like hers. "I don't think it's a good idea," she said. "If people are going to smoke then they are going to smoke anyway. "I only took the shop over six weeks ago and the majority of my sales are Cigarettes. I would say it's 90 per cent." She admits, though, that she has to turn away a lot of under-age children who try to buy fags. "To see the number of kids coming in here and asking for Cigarettes, it's amazing," she added. The 50-year-old believes placing Cigarettes out of the way will not affect youngsters wanting to buy them. She continued: "To me it's going to be an added burden to sMall retailers. "Times are hard anyway and I don't think they are going to achieve anything from this. "You've got big signs on the front of the packets saying 'smoking kills' but that doesn't make any difference. How you can stop anybody from smoking I've no idea." If Cigarettes are sold from under the counter there are concerns this will also result in a rise in shoplifting. Sinadurai Balasundram, 40, of World News, in Croydon High Street, said: "If you go under the counter somebody, while your eyes are turned, will then take the chocolate – 100 per cent." That view is backed by Siva Nawarathinam, owner of Eshop General Stores, on Croydon's London Road. He said: "Business would be affected. It would affect sales and take More time. "And when you bend down or if you turn completely some people will take from the front display." Jigar Patel, one of the partners of Early to Late, on the London Road, in West Croydon, added: "If they ban it, it's not going to make any difference. It's not the display that makes people want to smoke." The Department of Health is holding a consultation on its proposals. One of the arguments in favour of the ban is to stop youngsters from smoking. But Katherine Graham, campaign manager for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a coalition of 16,000 independent retailers, said: "Banning the display of tobacco would not Reduce youth smoking. "These measures have been tried in other parts of the world and have failed. "However, forcing retailers to keep tobacco under the counter would be very costly and highly impractical for sMall shops."

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