Last October I was pleased to meet Tony Allen at betterRetailing LIVE. We discussed the key challenges that the end of open displays of tobacco will bring retailers.

The point at which customers will need to be challenged on age is going to change. Until 6 April 2015, retailers with a compliant due diligence policy can ask for proof of age at any point up until the completion of the sale, so are able to use a product-linked till prompt as part of their process.

From 6 April, when tobacco displays must be kept out of view and only opened to make a sale to people who are over 18 years old, the age challenge must happen prior to opening the display. It will be illegal to open the gantry to anyone under the age of 18. While the till prompt may be a defence against actually selling the cigarettes or tobacco to someone underage, it will not stop the new offence of opening the display.

Retailers will need to change their store policies and re-train their employees for the new regulation immediately if they are  to avoid falling foul of the legislation.

If you are in any doubt about these changes, contact your local Trading Standards department for guidance and advice. After all, they have had three years of experience gained from managing larger stores, which went dark in 2012.

Do your employees know about how ‘going dark’ is going to change their job yet?