The blanket tobacco advertising bans introduced under the 2002 Tobacco Advertising and Promotions Act left the door ajar to point of sale and vending machine advertising. Detailed regulations are now published placing tight controls on even these.
New Law: The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Point of Sale) Regulations 2004
The Tobacco Advertising and Promotions Act 2002 put paid to most tobacco product advertising in the UK. It did, however, permit point of sale advertising in certain circumstances and empowered the Secretary of State to introduce further regulations in this area as and when thought appropriate.
What will change
The point of sale for these purposes is defined as "a point within any fixed or moveable premises at which a gantry or display unit is affixed". Where a number of separate businesses occupy the same premises "tobacco products may be advertised at only one point of sale within the part of the premises occupied by each of those businesses".
The actual content of a point of sale advert is kept simple and limited to (a) the name, emblem or other feature (a detailed and restrictive definition of "other feature" is helpfully supplied) , in any combination, of the tobacco product to which the advertisement relates; (b) the price of a packet of that product and the size of the packet to which the price relates, but shall not include any other word or image. In addition, it may only be two dimensional and must only occupy an area of A5 size. Prominence must also be given to the prescribed health warning, which must occupy at least 30% of the total service area of the advert.
There are also separate provisions that deal with advertising on tobacco vending machines. These may consist only of a picture of the packet of a tobacco product which is for sale from that machine. It must be no larger than the surface area of the largest face of the packet of the tobacco product depicted, and must include the requisite health warning, occupying no less than 30% of the surface area of the advertisement, surrounded by a black border not less than 3 millimetres, nor more than 4 millimetres in width.
Electronic displays not permitted
More generally, neither point of sale advertising in retail establishments nor advertising on tobacco vending machines will be compliant, whatever their content, if they are displayed electronically on a screen or contain a moving image or a moving background, or an image or background which changes colour or is illuminated by flashing lights. They will also not be compliant regardless of content, if they are designed or adapted to be accompanied by any sound or smell. To be complaint, these advertisements must also remain fixed in a static position.
What happens next
The new regulations come into force on 21 December 2004.