A NEW law which stops large shops and supermarkets from displaying tobacco comes into force today.
The ban is aimed at reducing the uptake of smoking among young people in particular, by removing the visual temptation of cigarettes on display. The law will extend to smaller shops, bulk tobacconists and specialist tobacconists in April 2015.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "Smoking remains a huge risk to public health in Wales.
"Around 20 per cent of our NHS admissions are related to smoking, at a cost of more than £1 million a day.
"Our aim is to reduce smoking levels in Wales to 16 per cent by 2020, with an ultimate vision of a smoke-free society, in which the harm from tobacco is completely eradicated.
"We know that young people can be influenced by seeing cigarettes on display, and that they can tempt adults who are trying to give up the habit.
"We see this new law as an important part of our drive to tackle the harm caused by smoking. If we can prevent young people from ever taking up smoking, we can give future generations a better chance of a healthy life."
From today, large retailers will no longer be able to have cigarettes and other tobacco products on display, except when staff are serving customers and carrying out tasks such as restocking. Tobacco price lists will also look different.
A plain A3 price list with no tobacco branding can be shown at the point of sale, with an illustrated price list available to customers on request.
Customers may be asked for proof of age before being shown the illustrated list.
The new law will be enforced by local trading standards officials, and non-compliance is a criminal offence.
Anyone found guilty could face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to two years in prison. Chair of Wales Heads of Trading Standards Ken Yorston added: "We see the removal of tobacco from retail display as being a key factor in driving down the level of underage sales of tobacco products across Wales.
"Trading Standards services will be working closely with businesses to help them satisfy the new legislation, both now for large shops and in the run up to April 2015 when the remaining sectors of the retail trade will have to comply."
Sales assistant Kelly Morris who works at Coggers Newsagents on Wind Street in Swansea said she welcomed the new law.
"I think it is a good idea," she said. "It is good because if youngsters can't see them they might not buy them.
"I don't think it will affect us too much when the law extends for smaller shops because people will still come into the shop for them anyway."