Shopkeepers in Northamptonshire have been warned to follow new tobacco legislation that came into the effect at the weekend.
The regulations are designed to limit the appeal of tobacco products, particularly to young people, and to make health warnings on the packaging more visible.
The overall aim of the new legislation is to reduce rates of smoking.
Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards says it is encouraging retailers to ensure they are familiar with the new restrictions and to remove all old stock from their stores.
The regulations include:
* Plain packs – all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco must be sold in standardised plain packaging with bigger health warnings. The new packaging is described as being ‘muddy green’ – apparently, research has shown it to be the world’s ugliest colour
* Pack sizes – packs of 10 are banned and the minimum pack size of cigarettes will be 20. With changes to excise duty rates this means a minimum price of £8.82. The smallest hand rolling tobacco pack will be 30 grammes
* Flavours – cigarettes and tobacco with flavourings are banned, apart from menthol which is permitted until 2020.
Retailers have had one year to sell through old stock and the new legislation came into full effect on Saturday. Any retailers convicted of breaking the law could be fined, or even face imprisonment, or both.
The new rules are in addition to existing tobacco legislation which restricts tobacco advertising and the display of tobacco products in shops.
David Hedger, manager of Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards, said: “It is important that shopkeepers ensure they understand and are fully compliant with the new regulations relating to tobacco packaging which came into effect at the weekend.
“The new rules have been brought in to make consumers more aware of the health effects of smoking with clear warnings on packaging and the ultimate aim is to encourage people not to smoke in the first place.
“I would encourage anyone who is aware of a retailer not complying with the legislation to report it to us by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.”
Business owners can find advice and support from Trading Standards by visiting www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards.