CigarettsTocabboCigars opened in our shopping centre last week. Except for the name above the door and the cabinets of tobacco products behind the counter this looks and feels like a gift shop that is targeting to women and kids as customers.
The Tobacco Station store that has been in the centre for ages offers gifts aimed at guys that you could say sit appropriately with tobacco products. CigarettsTocabboCigars is the first tobacco store I have seen that is appealing to a completely different shopper to that which would usually see being targeted by a tobacco business. It feels to me like the products are a bait to attract a different shopper.
While I doubt they are breaking any laws by targeting young kids, I do think there is a question to be considered given the steps already taken to cut tobacco consumption and take-up of tobacco products by first time smokers. They are using brands that appeal to kids to bring them into a business that is primarily focused on selling cigarettes and tobacco related products. While the shop floor does not reflect this, the business name does as does the cabinets behind the counter.
The question for society and regulators is: what if all tobacco retailers switched to this model of looking and feeling like gift, plush and toy shops with a prime focus of selling tobacco products?
A reasonable comment would be what about newsagents? Newsagency businesses are kid friendly but they have a far broader appeal. I’d say that newsagencies selling tobacco – a number that is falling by the way – have a far broader appeal than that of what looks in the photo like a toy / gift / plush shop. Our businesses have not been set up with the bait I’m seeing in this new shop.
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For the record, I don’t see tobacco products. I quit the category in 1998.