Mike Champions Local Newsagents

 Article from Retail Newsagent – 27th August 2010

A Conservative MP is to challenge Parliament to defend its decision on the tobacco display ban, after talks with a group of independent retailers.

Hove and Portslade MP Mike Weatherley has promised to put forward a question when Parliament re-convenes in September, asking what research has been done to assess the impact of a display ban on independents.

Mr Weatherley, who met a group of retailers at a Retail Newsagent roundtable event last week, said he wanted to protect independent retailers.

“After hearing what retailers at the roundtable said, I felt we didn’t want to see a load of closures on the high street at this particular time, quite apart from the impact on local authority revenues this might have, or the damage to consumer choice of shoppers who want to go to a local shop,” he said.

“We want to protect independent retailers. I don’t want the government to hide behind the fact that they didn’t do a survey earlier on. If I do get the facts I can raise my voice accordingly.”

Panelist Harry Goraya, owner of Nisa Local in Northfleat, Kent said: “Mr Weatherley seemed to know a lot about the subject of the display ban and wasn’t just down to have his picture taken.”

In the same week, a survey of more than 1,000 16 and 17-year-olds published in Addiction found that youth smoking rates have declined by 7% since the increase in the legal age to buy tobacco rose from 16 to 18.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “We did not oppose the increase in the legal age for buying tobacco because we felt it would help tackle youth smoking. By contrast there is no evidence that a display ban would have this effect.

“The government must act to stop this misguided legislation and focus on the real causes of youth smoking.”