No! Don't Look! Gah, too late
The peerless Kate of UK Vapers highlighted a very interesting piece about not only the current rising fortunes of e-cigs (scroll to the bottom), but also the tobacco market in general.
Squirrelled away amongst the comprehensive trade info, though, were these startling - and uncomfortably amusing - couple of paras describing the lengths cash and carry outlets are forced to go to in satisfying the daft tobacco display regulations by April 6th (emphases mine).
But it also looks as if cash and carries are going to have to make significant changes to the way they handle and sell tobacco, with the added complication that the precise rules are unlikely to be published until March, just one month before they are implemented. The FWD intervened on behalf of its members and was given guidance by the Department of Health, and it is expected that cash and carries will have to ensure that only tobacco traders can see tobacco products on their premises.Stop giggling for a second and picture the scene.
This will mean that tobacco rooms will have to be equipped with doors and controlled to ensure non tobacco traders do not enter. In addition any tobacco products being moved through depots, whether they are being delivered or they are on customers' trolleys will have to be covered up so they cannot be seen. The guidance was only published shortly before this feature was written, so cash and carries said it was too early to say precisely how they would be dealing with it. One cash and carry boss summed it up as "bags, doors and personnel", and also pointed out that it would mean considerable expense and there was very little time in which to implement the changes.
There's your local Makro, or other such entity, building isolation units for boxes of tabs, cigars and tobacco for fear of a food retailer catching a glimpse of an outer of Marlboro. There'll need to be an announcement to 'look away now' when the door opens, of course, to protect anyone tempted to peer inside.
Meanwhile, in the loading bay fork lift drivers - presumably wearing a blindfold - are clambering on the back of artics, draping tarps or blankets over pallets of Hamlet, to ensure someone walking past isn't subject to the life-threatening prospect of seeing the packaging.
On the sales floor, customers are walking around with trolleys groaning under the weight of shrink-wrapped wine gum boxes and baked bean trays, but with the radioactive cig boxes concealed by black bags in case someone who doesn't sell tobacco is infected by baccy-package-itis.
God help the tobacconist who removes his supplies from their church of public health burqa to have a little look! Sirens will sound; rotating red lights will flash; and store staff will come running as if he'd begun letting off acid-laced fireworks. OK, maybe not the sirens and lights, but I'm sure the terror of resultant fines will ensure a sound telling off for any hapless customer who doesn't dutifully comply.
It's all a bit Python-esque, isn't it? Reminiscent of the World's funniest joke sketch ...
... which is quite apt, seeing as this kind of law really is just that. A Westminster joke at the electorate's expense.
As mentioned in yesterday's diatribe, how very pathetic are our politicians that they think we will be enamoured of them for passing such inconsequential nonsense, solely to justify the salaries of a few increasingly hysterical anti-tobacco loons? That none of them feel just a little bit stupid for voting in regulations with absurd consequences like those detailed above? That there is not a flicker of concern for the difficulties - and expense - they have inflicted on traders, and their customers, to satisfy ridiculous hobby horse self-aggrandisement.
Government has become farce. Yet still they're baffled as to why more and more of us can't be bothered to vote for any of them.
Considering Monty Python would probably make more sensible policy than the current set of Westminster clowns, it's hardly a surprise, is it?