Retailers see dip in sales of cigarettes after display ban
Jin Biao Coffee Shop in Potong Pasir Avenue 3 has been selling cigarettes for decades.
But after the owner placed an opaque sheet over the cigarette boxes on sale two weeks ago, sales dropped by up to 50 per cent.
Faced with the prospect of falling profits, Mr Jonathan Poh, 42, who helps his parents run the coffee shop, is thinking of ending the sale of cigarettes.
The ban on point-of-sale display of tobacco products started yesterday.
Most retailers, however, started complying with the ban as early as a month ago.
Some of the eight convenience stores and coffee shops approached by The New Paper yesterday have seen a decline in cigarette sales after the display ban.
The ban, first announced in July last year, aims to reduce the exposure of non-smokers, especially non-smoking youth, to the advertising effect of tobacco product displays.
Mr Poh thinks that the display ban has deterred younger smokers.
He said: "Many younger customers decide on the spot, so it is difficult to make a sale when it is all covered up. There are so many varieties, and people need to see what they want to buy."
Madam See Siew Hong, 48, store supervisor for Eng Giap Mini Mart in Chai Chee, started keeping the cigarettes in a cabinet two weeks ago.
She has noticed younger customers walking away when they do not spot any cigarettes on display for sale at the shop.
"There are people who think we do not sell cigarettes any more," she said.
Some retailers will work around the ban.
Ms Lay Hong, 48, supervisor of Jmart Anchorvale Minimart, which has stopped displaying cigarettes for a month, said: "If I get unfamiliar customers who ask to see the cigarettes, I will ask them for the brand or their budget."
Businessman Johnson Tan, 28, who has been smoking for three years, does not think the ban will affect his habit.
"For seasoned smokers, we know which brand we want, but my younger friends who just started do not know how to choose cigarettes as there is no visual. (The display ban) will definitely impact the younger generation."
Retailers who contravene the ban can be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to six months, or both.