The rules for selling cigarettes in Scotland are changing. What will this mean for our stores north of the border?

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Service (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent on March 3, although the date it will come fully into force in 2011 has yet to be set. However, retailers need to be prepared for the changes.

McGrigors senior associate Audrey Ferrie says all retailers selling tobacco will be required to register, and many including those selling tobacco products from kiosks within larger stores will be affected.

Few retailers will qualify for the status of a specialist tobacconist, so when the legislation comes into force they will have to remove tobacco products from display, and remove all tobacco signage except price lists, although they will still be permitted to sell these products.

Ferrie says that some retailers may decide to set up their stores differently, with a self-contained specialist tobacconist as a result.

Retailers also need to think about retraining staff ahead of the law taking affect, as the penalties for non-compliance will be harsh. She explains: “Trading Standards officers will have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to retailers who breach the display ban, commit any offences or fail to comply with the registration provisions.”

And Ferrie adds: “A retailer who is in breach of the legislation three times in two years could be subject to an application for a court order banning the retailer from selling tobacco within the local authority’s area. For multiples this could be serious, as any banning order could affect several stores.”