Tobacco retailers have to hide their smokes and get rid of all in-store advertising over the next six months, or face fines up to $10,000.
The Department of Health Promotion and Protection issued new regulations Thursday that will eliminate the “power walls” that display tobacco brands behind the cash register at convenience stores.
Some retailers say it’s almost impossible to comply.
“A lot of people are not going to be going along with this because the government has not dealt in good faith,” said Sid Chedrawe of the Independent Food Stores Association.
The province was supposed to impose the advertising ban back in March. Health Promotion Minister Barry Barnet said it proved difficult to write regulations that would not be full of loopholes.
Convenience stores are now allowed to keep Cigarettes under or above the counter, as long as they’re not visible to the public. They can also continue to store cigarette packages behind the counter — as long as the shelves are encased in a cabinet that’s four feet by four feet. Its doors must be fitted with self-closing hinges.
Saskatchewan and Prince Edward island have already banned power walls. Barnet said officials in those provinces warned that some retailers will leave tobacco cabinets open.
“We don’t want them to be able to use these storage things as mini power walls,” Barnet said.
Chedrawe said the size and shape of the new tobacco cabinets was designed with no input from retailers. “There is no such item in existence today,” Chedrawe said.
That forces store owners to keep Cigarettes under the counter, he said. That requires clerks to bend-down repeatedly, and makes them vulnerable to attack.
Losing in-store advertising will also cost retailers payments from the tobacco industry. The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control reports retailers collected $100.1 million in fees for displaying tobacco products in 2005 — an average of $3,000 per store.
“That’s just a common practice in retail,” Chedrawe said. “It’s the same for milk. It’s the same for pop.” He said the province should compensate retailers for the lost revenue.
Bob Gee, who runs Mader’s Tobacco Store in Kentville, said shops like his have to give up selling non-tobacco products. That will cost him five per cent of his revenue.
“It’s not large, but who wants to lose five per cent of their business?” he asked.
Gee pRedicted shops will close due to the new rules, costing jobs and tax revenue.
Barnet said it’s worthwhile to put tobacco out of sight and out of mind.
“We believe it will have an affect in Reducing tobacco consumption, especially among young people.”