Imperial Tobacco yesterday lost a legal bid to overturn a Scottish government ban on the display of cigarettes. .
The Supreme Court dismissed the company's claim that the Scottish government had exceeded its powers by approving the prohibition, which also outlaws cigarette vending machines.
Imperial, the world's fourth-largest cigarette group, had said the Scottish legislation trespassed on areas that were reserved for the British government. However, the court said Scotland's 2010 Tobacco Act was "not outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament".
Imperial's legal challenge had delayed Scotland's planned introduction of the ban this April as a public health measure to help curb smoking amongst young.
Following the ruling, the Scottish government said it would implement the display ban in larger stores and supermarkets from April 2013, with the ban being implemented in smaller stores under 3,000 sq. ft. in 2015.
Imperial said it was disappointed by the court's decision. "We will now await the publication of the Scottish display ban regulations and will consider our options," it said.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation said trading at retailers will be hit when the tobacco display ban is implemented. Its chief executive John Drummond said: “It is the retailers who are the real losers in this case; losers because they will have to find large sums of money in order to cover up the tobacco gantries that are currently in place.
“Scottish retailers are worse affected than the other countries in the UK due to the draconian measures imposed by the Scottish government, especially in relation to the available space allowed during any transaction.
“The probability of longer transaction times resulting in longer queues and disgruntled consumers may lead them to pursue cheaper purchases on the illicit market, where it may be easier to buy tobacco products which have either been imported illegally or are counterfeit products.”
Elsewhere in the UK, bans are already in force on cigarette vending machines and on the display of tobacco in large retailers, with the prohibition due to apply to smaller shops by 2015.
NamNews - Thursday 13th December 2012