Display Ban

The Tobacco Display Ban is legislation that prohibits shops and other public venues from openly displaying tobacco products.


It has applied to larger stores and supermarkets since 2012 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and from 2013 in Scotland and from the 6th April 2015 the Display Ban extended to all smaller shops and convenience stores.

The Display Ban in practice

  • All tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars, hand rolling tobacco – have to be covered up. The only times a tobacco display can be uncovered are: (1) to serve customers aged 18 years or older who have requested to buy or see tobacco products; and (2) while staff are actively performing necessary maintenance duties such as stock-taking, restocking, staff training, cleaning the gantry etc.
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you are allowed to reveal no more than 1.5m2 (about 10 shelves on a 1m2 gantry) worth of tobacco products at a time. Tobacco accessories, such as cigarette papers, lighters, matches, etc. can be displayed anywhere, anytime, in or out of sight. However, if you are looking for one of these accessories only, you are not allowed to expose tobacco while doing so.
  • In Scotland, shops not allowed reveal no more than 1m2 (about the length of 8-12 pack-facings) worth of tobacco products at a time and the ban also applies to a list of “smoking related products”. This list currently includes cigarette papers, cigarette tubes, cigarette filters, apparatus for making cigarettes, cigarette holders and pipes for smoking tobacco products.
  • It is legal to display posters which indicate that tobacco is sold in your store, as well as a price list for your customers’ reference.
  • The law does not specify how you should cover up your tobacco products. You could use a curtain, a shutter, or a sliding door. Alternatively, you could keep them on open shelves that only you and your staff can see – above or below the counter, facing away from customers’ views, for example.


What happens if you break the ban?

    Any person, including shop managers and
    shop assistants, found guilty of these offences is
    • on summary conviction in a magistrates’ court
    to an unlimited fine on the standard scale, or
    imprisonment for a term not exceeding six
    months, or both
    • on conviction on indictment in the Crown Court
    to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
    two years, a fine or both.