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Ban on Tobacco Product Displays

Since May 31, 2008 the display of tobacco products in retail outlets such as convenience and grocery stores, gas stations and snack bars has been banned.

All tobacco must be kept out of site where it will be out of mind for youth entering these premises. It’s a powerful move to help keep our youth tobacco free and take away the temptation for people trying to break their addiction to tobacco products.

Prior to the introduction of display bans, tobacco companies were able to buy space behind the counter at stores to display a wall of tobacco products - often with more than 1,000 packages of cigarettes on display to attract buyers. This type of product marketing has proven to be so effective it has been dubbed a powerwall. And until the Smoke-Free Ontario Act legislated the ban it was the last remaining retail direct-to-consumer (all ages) form of advertising - similar to a large billboard ad.

The ban was first announced in May 2006 as a component of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Retailers were given a two-year window to make the necessary modifications to their store to ensure tobacco products cannot be seen for any more than a few seconds when a tobacco a small door or drawer is opened to withdraw the product from storage.

Countertop displays of chew, dip and snus tobacco - now being pushed by the tobacco industry to counter the ban on smoking in public and workplaces must also be put out of sight, out of mind. Also covered by the ban are cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco and any other specialty tobacco products.

As well any kind of promotional materials that reflect a particular brand of tobacco product such decorative panels, promotional lighting or three-dimensional exhibits are prohibited.

Any signs referring to the sale of tobacco products or their prices are limited in size, color and a maximum of three per store. The text on a sign cannot be visible from outside the retail outlet.

The only exception to the retail display ban is at a tobacconist shop. A tobacconist shop is a retail store that is devoted solely to the sale of tobacco products and accessories. These specialty shops must have applied for tobacconist status and been approved as a registered tobacconist.

Tobacco Enforcement Officers from the health unit are responsible for inspecting retail outlets that sell tobacco. They also investigate complaints from the public.

To report any concerns with retail outlets tobacco product displays, the sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 19, or smoking on the premises, contact Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

How the Powerwall Ban Affects Retailers

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act

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