Display Ban – 5 laws that could catch you out

With shops smaller than 3,000sq ft set to go dark on 6 April, retailers across the UK should already be making their preparations.

Whether you’re going for doors, dispensers or draws in the countertop, there are many parts of the new display ban legislation that can trip unsuspecting retailers up.

Retail Express spoke to Tony Allen, managing director of retailer support service Under Age Sales, to find out the ways that retailers could unwittingly break the law.

1. Opening the gantry doors to someone under 18 can lead to a £5,000 fine.

under 18

The new procedure must go in this order:

  1. Customer asks for tobacco
  2. The retailer checks ID
  3. Then the retailer opens the gantry

This will mean that till prompts become harder to implement so staff have to be constantly aware.

2. You must not open the gantry doors to anyone who has not asked for tobacco.

non tobacco

This can also result in a £5,000 fine.

Allen says: “If you put paracetamol in your gantry and someone asks for it and you open the door when they have not asked for tobacco. You are committing an offence.” This is something that particularly affects smaller stores who might be pushed for space.

3. You are held responsible if the wind is blowing the gantry open.


While it is legal to use a curtain to cover the gantry, you should make sure the wind cannot blow it open. Claiming it was an “act of God” is not a legal defence in this case.

4. You must not restock for longer than a ‘reasonable time’.


You can open the gantry to restock while the shop is open, but leaving it open while you do other things is an offence.

5. Make sure you cover up!

display ban

Failing to do this can result in a £5,000 fine in a magistrate’s court or an unlimited fine if the case goes to the Crown Court. Repeat offences could result in you being banned from selling tobacco and if you continue to sell after being banned, the fine is £20,000.


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