Tobacco Display Ban – Unintended Licensing Consequences?


The Scottish Government announced today that the ban on the display of tobacco and tobacco products will take effect from 29 April 2013, for “large” premises. A further period of grace has been allowed for “small” premises as the ban will take effect for them from 5 April 2015. The self-service cigarette vending machine ban will also kick in on 29 April 2013 so it is now a matter of weeks before they become a part of history.

The display ban was originally brought forth under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act 2010 but was delayed whilst the Imperial Tobacco judicial review was pursued, unsuccesfully, through the courts.

Those affected from 29 April 2013 are premises with a floor size of 280 square metres or higher.

There may be an unintended consequence for premises with an alcohol licence. In removing the tobacco displays, certain premises may need to consider a reconfiguration of their premises (albeit perhaps localised to the till area). There may be some premises which, in turn, need to seek approval from the licensing board for the layout change. The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 requires licence holders to lodge a minor variation application where the layout plan of the premises has changed. I would hope that, in the majority of cases, this can be avoided, but I remain concerned that in some cases premises may need to reconfigure their till and counter areas. And if these are shown on the layout plan then the plan may need amended. This will involve an application being made to the licensing board to provide an updated plan and this could bring additional cost to the trader.

I also wonder whether pub cigarette vending machines will be replaced with something else; perhaps a lottery ticket machine. These lottery machines are becoming more popular because they do not require a licence or permit and VAT is levied on the monies raised. These machines are ones which dispense pre-printed tickets. The machines which themselves decide if the player will win something is a Category B machine under the Gambling Act 2005 and should not be in a pub at all! The ban applies to self-service machines. It will still be legal to have a machine which is operated by staff; noting of course that the display ban applies to pubs too.



About Stephen McGowan

Leading Scottish licensing solicitor at TLT LLP.
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