Members of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a coalition of 25,000 independent retailers, have expressed outrage that their views were excluded from a Government report into retail displays of tobacco.

In a report on the Future of Tobacco Control consultation published on Tuesday 9th December 2008, the Department of Health appears to have deliberately omitted evidence offered by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance.

Ken Patel, Leicester retailer and National Spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, said: "First the Minister refused to meet with retailers, now they have censored our formal response to a public consultation."

Campaign Manager Katherine Graham said; "We are not listed as one of the respondents although our response was submitted by email and also sent by post, so we can be certain it was received. For some reason the views of 25,000 shopkeepers just seem to have been air-brushed out of the consultation report."

"Part of our response included a very detailed econometric study into the impact a display ban would have on small shops. None of that data was included in the report. Yet this should have been a transparent process where the views of all interested parties were represented - particularly those who will be directly affected by these proposals."

Evidence offered by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance which was suppressed in the report includes:

Evidence that a display ban would disproportionately hit smaller shops

An econometric study which found that 2,600 UK shops would cease to be profitable if forced to operate in these conditions

Evidence that a display ban could double transaction times in shops, halving retail efficiency

Fears for shop security and staff safety as retailers have to take their eyes off the shop when retrieving tobacco products

Concerns that putting tobacco under the counter would blur the distinction in consumers' minds between the legitimate and the illicit market

Evidence that a display ban would displace trade from small shops to larger retail outlets

Ken Patel said: "Retailers are very concerned to see that their views were not taken into account, even though the Government said it wanted to hear from us. It feels as though we have been gagged, even though this measure will have a massive impact on our businesses."

"Many retailers who work long days and for whom English isn't their first language were relying on their trade associations and organisations such as the Tobacco Retailers Alliance to speak up on their behalf. So it is outrageous that our views, when we represent 25,000 retailers, have simply been disregarded."


- The Tobacco Retailers Alliance is a coalition of 25,000 independent retailers. For 25 years we have represented the rights of legitimate retailers to sell tobacco products in a legal and responsible way. Through our Retailers Against Smuggling campaign, we have worked towards reducing the prevalence of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco products. Last year we launched Responsible Retailers, a new campaign to encourage and promote responsibility in retailing tobacco products.

- Banning retail displays of tobacco would impact on small shops in five ways:

Cost of compliance estimated at £2,000 - £10,000 per shop

Displaced trade to larger retail outlets

Boosting the already significant black market

Undermining retail efficiency

Threatening shop security

Early Day Motion no. 1904 in support of small shops on the issue of tobacco displays attracted 101 signatures of cross-party support.

27% of cigarettes and 68% of hand-rolling tobacco consumed in Britain is non-UK duty paid. Around 3% of total UK cigarette consumption is estimated to be counterfeit. The black market in tobacco causes a loss to the Treasury as much as £11 million every day.

A study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research found that 2,600 shops would cease to be profitable, causing a potential loss of 8,000 jobs, if shops were forced to hide tobacco products out of sight.

Tobacco Retailers Alliance