Legal Q&A: Displaying cigars in a pub

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Freedom of Information requests for pubs

Related tags: Tobacco

This week's legal Q&A looks at displaying cigars in pubs and access to information through Freedom of Information requests.

Q: I am the operator of a pub, and while I know that it is not possible to display cigarettes in view of the public behind my bar, does the same apply to cigars? I would like to start to stock a number of specialist cigars and would prefer to be able to display them behind
the bar?

A:​ From 6 April 2015 under the Health Act 2009, it became illegal to display all tobacco products behind the bar. This applies equally to cigars as it does to cigarettes. The only time cigars or, indeed, any other tobacco products can be on display is when they are being sold to customers, for the purposes of restocking, or where staff are being trained.

It is also worth noting that the act also prohibits the use of any price lists being used in any manner, which could be seen to be promoting tobacco.

The sanctions for breaching this piece of legislation are either on a summary conviction to the magistrates’ court an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or, alternatively, if convicted on indictment to the crown court, to a prison term not exceeding two years, an unlimited fine, or both.

Access to information

Q: What is an FOI request?

A:​ An FOI request is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This act gives you a right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations.

In licensing terms, the most common requests are of the police (for crime and disorder figures relating to a specific premises) or of the environmental health officer (for noise complaints). You can make a request by letter, email or fax and you should get the information within 20 working days (subject to certain exceptions). Most requests are free, but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies or postage.

A word of advice, however, ensure you phrase your FOI request precisely.

For example, if you ask the police for all incidents relating to the Dog & Duck pub for the past two years that is exactly what you are likely to get, and may include not only incidents of alcohol-related violence or antisocial behaviour, but reports of slates slipping from the roof, A-boards being blown over or even positive reports such as door staff refusing entry to someone who is drunk. FOIs can be very useful, but must be handled with caution.

Related topics: Licensing law

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