By Ralph Tritt
Tobacconists are to be forced under the counter in new measures announced by the government to cut adult smoking rates. From next April, any vendor who suspects someone coming into their shop might wish to buy cigarettes will be obliged by law to duck down out of sight and remain hidden until such time as that person decides to leave empty-handed.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the move was â€˜designed to eliminate the middle man and thereby the means by which most smokers get their tobacco.â€™
Heather Maudlin, a spokesperson from the anti-smoking action group TISH (Tobacco Is Smelly and Horrid), welcomed the news, saying: â€˜If it means putting people out of business, then so be it. I donâ€™t smoke, so why should anybody else?â€™
However, pro-tobacco lobbyists SMEGMA (Smoking is Manly Efficacious and Glamorous Mostly Ahem) were quick to hit back. â€˜We will not be dictated to like this,â€™ member John Rugged insisted, before going outside to light up.
There was concern also from ASSASSIN (Associated Smokers and Silly Acronyms Supporting Shopkeepers Including Newsagents) who described the legislation as â€˜a charter for shoplifters.â€™
â€˜How am I supposed to keep an eye on my stock when Iâ€™m hiding under the counter?â€™ Alf Lunn, 78, proprietor of Alfâ€™s Fags â€˜nâ€™ Mags in Chichester, wanted to know. â€˜They gonna give me a bleedinâ€™ periscope?â€™
When contacted by the Haddock, PREPUCE (Periscopic Requirements Encompassing Peeping Under Counter Enterprises ) declined to comment.