The ban, brought in to prevent under-age sales and to support adults trying to quit smoking, officially came into force in England on 1 October. It will be introduced in Northern Ireland on February 1 2012 with Scotland and Wales expected to follow suit in the near future.
Under the move, hospitality businesses can still sell tobacco, but must do it from under the counter. Anyone found guilty of displaying cigarette adverts could face a fine of up to £5k or face imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
The British Heart Foundation, which campaigned for the ban, is urging pubs, restaurants and hotels to throw out empty vending machines if they still have them as it is also illegal to display tobacco advertising.
"We’re encouraging landlords to remove machines completely now so they – and any left-over branding – don’t act as dusty old adverts for tobacco," said the charity's Betty McBride.
Legislation for licensees
The Trading Standards Institute's lead officer for health, Dennis Ager, said the move, brought in by the Department of Health was 'necessary and long overdue.'
“The ease with which children have been able to access cigarettes from these often unsupervised machines has been truly shocking and this ban is proportionate and necessary. Trading Standards will be working closely with businesses to help them comply with this new legislation, together with the requirement to scrap tobacco displays between 2012 and 2015," he said.
The ban was accompanied by several other changes affecting licensed businesses. From 1 October pubs can serve two-third of a pint 'schooner' measures and duty was cut by 50 per cent for beers with an abv lower than 2.8 per cent.
The minimum wage rate has also gone up, from £5.98 per hour to £6.08 for workers aged 21 and above.