Ban, allows cigs on shelves
The cabinet yesterday ordered a review of a ministerial health regulation to allow the display of cigarettes in shops, but only in "non-promotional spots".
The decision is likely to end the dispute between the Public Health Ministry and the CP 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores.
The ministry wanted a total ban on tobacco displays in shops, which would be allowed only to show an A4-sized sign saying "Cigarettes sold here".
But with the cabinet fearing lawsuits by private companies over a total ban, it decided the ministry should amend its regulation to allow cigarettes to be displayed in shops, but in designated spots only, government spokesman Surapong Seubwonglee said.
The reviewed regulation would allow cigarettes to be displayed in areas which did not stimulate tobacco use.
The Public Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Council of State will work out a clear definition for the location of tobacco displays which does not constitute advertising.
It could mean a spot which was not specifically paid for by cigarette companies, such as behind or near the cashier's counter, he said.
"If cigarettes were placed on regular shelves, like shampoos for example, it would not be a problem because the location did not aim at advertising or attracting attention," he said.
CP 7-Eleven has consistently opposed the ministry's policy of totally banning cigarette displays, refusing to remove cigarettes from the shelves.
Last week police and public health officials raided two 7-Eleven shops in Nonthaburi for violating the ministerial ban.
The convenience store chain is part of Charoen Pokphand Group, one of the country's largest conglomerates and one of the main financiers of the Thai Rak Thai party.