Belgium votes for tobacco ban in supermarkets

By: Trademagazin editor Date: 2024. 03. 22. 09:31

Belgium is the next country to introduce stricter rules on the sale of tobacco and alcohol. One of the measures is a ban on tobacco sales in supermarkets. The number of sales points for alcohol is also going down.

On Thursday, the Belgian parliament approved a bill by Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, which imposes stricter rules on the sale of tobacco and alcohol. We list the main measures.

From 1 April 2025, supermarkets larger than 400 sqm will no longer be allowed to sell tobacco products. The ban also applies to temporary sales outlets, such as festivals. Even in shops that still are allowed to sell tobacco, there will be a ban on displaying any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, devices, filters and so on. Retailers will have to ask for proof of identity from anyone who wants to buy tobacco products and appears to be under 25. There will also be tougher penalties for violations of the advertising and promotion ban.

With these anti-tobacco measures, Belgium is following the example of countries like the Netherlands, where tobacco products are already disappearing from food retailers from 1 July this year. The tobacco ban could cost supermarkets about 7 % of sales, but a number of Dutch independent supermarket operators are deciding to open a separate tobacco shop next-door to compensate for that loss.

The sale of alcohol is also being limited: there will be a ban on selling alcohol to minors under 18. There is an exception for beer and wine, where the age limit will remain on 16, unless alcohol or a flavouring of alcohol was added.

There will also be a ban on the sale of alcohol in vending machines, in hospitals, and in petrol stations along motorways between 10pm and 7am, with an exception for roadside restaurants.

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