Retailers in Singapore have said that a proposal to ban shops from displaying cigarettes will result in a host of problems, according to a story by Melissa Lin for the Straits Times.
Retailers are expecting to encounter confusion, longer transaction times and added business costs should the rule be implemented.
But most business owners said it was unlikely to affect sales much.
Under the proposed amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, retailers would have to keep tobacco products out of the sight of customers, in opaque storage units.
The measures were not practical given that shops sold more than 100 types of cigarettes, said Hong Poh Hin, vice-chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants’ Association.
“Now, customers can point at a cigarette pack and we know where it is,” he said. “But if there’s a curtain covering the packs and my worker is new, how will they know where to find the correct pack? It’s not efficient.”
Another amendment to the Act will allow retailers to show, upon request, text-only price lists of tobacco products, which are currently prohibited because they are deemed to be a form of advertisement.
Alan Tay, chairman of the Singapore Mini Mart Association, would like to see the authorities go one step further. He said they should allow brand logos to be put on the price lists. Many mini-mart employees were Chinese-educated and might not be able to match the spoken brand names to the ones on the packs. “Quarrels are bound to happen when workers sell the wrong pack to customers,” he said.
Lilienne Chong, merchandise director at 7-Eleven, said many of its franchisees were small and medium-sized enterprises “already facing a very challenging operating environment”. “While we are fully supportive of the fundamental objectives behind the display ban… business will be affected,” she said.
Meanwhile, a 30-year old manager who has been smoking since he was 15 and who has been trying to quit smoking for seven months, said the measures were not good enough. “I don’t need to see the pack to crave a cigarette,” he said. “What matters most is the smell.”