Following Peter Kellner's Open Letter to Vince Cable in the New Statesman on 21 October, a reply has appeared in New Statesman's Letter of the Week spot, from Parminder Singh, National President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (I haven't been able to find it online). He dismisses Keller's dichotomy of health or Big Tobacco (or as Kellner put it 'now is the time to choose between Big Tobacco and the British people'):
Our fears are genuine. The display ban is not a health v business issue: independent evidence demonstrates that it does not work on health grounds and it affects small businesses disproportionately. It therefore fails both tests of making effective and evidence-based legislation.Singh also refers to international evidence of effectiveness in other countries, including the closures of shops in this places; he mentions that Denmark and Sweden have decided against the ban because of lack of evidence that it will work; and he cites the cost of complying with the legislation: another area of controversy.
Grocers have had high hopes since the formation of the Coalition Government that overturning the ban might be possible. To their credit they have continued to campaign throughout the summer and they – and the rest of us – deserve a good outcome: that another government will decide that the evidence doesn't justify a ban. Unfortunately Scotland seems unlikely to follow.