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Tobacco goes into hiding

Setting up tobaccco sales.

Image: YLE Keski-Suomi

With the start of a new year, tobacco products will no longer been seen in Finnish shops. Tougher anti-smoking legislation means tobacco products may not be displayed and must be kept out of sight.

Most shops and supermarkets that sell tobacco products have already prepared for the change in regulations. Retailers have had to rearrange sales points so that, for example, cigarette packages cannot be seen by customers. Pictures of brands on automated dispensers are being replaced by numbers.

“No tobacco products are visible at the checkout, and staff has been trained. We’ll see how our customers take the change. At the start, it’s sure to cause lines at checkout while people ask about the numbers. This is something new for both the customers and for the cashiers,” says Jyrki Kiviniemi of the Muurame S-Market.

Under the new law, retailers may not market tobacco products, so customers will have to request them from a numbered list. Self-service automats and shelves will disappear and sales personnel will have to physically hand over any tobacco products.

Small kiosks may actually see an increase in sales. Even though tobacco products will be out of sight, as it may be easier to ask the sales person for the personal service of fetching cigarettes by brand name.

Tougher laws regulating tobacco use and tobacco sales are aimed at a totally tobacco-free Finland. Not everyone is convinced that hiding cigarettes in shops is the way to achieve this goal.

“This just goes too far in being controlling. Those who smoke will smoke and there’s nothing to be done about it. It’s up to yourself if you wants to stop smoking,” says Jyväskylä resident Ville Mäkinen

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