From our consumer protection work: Tobacco advertising outside only permitted on the premises of specialised retailers

13.03.2024  Pro Rauchfrei warns against illegal outdoor advertising for tobacco products and e-cigarettes. The picture shows digital and conventional advertising for cigarettes and e-cigarettes at a petrol station in Hesse.

Since 1 January of this year, outdoor advertising for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and refill containers is no longer permitted, except on the premises of specialist retailers and on their outdoor surfaces. The ban enacted in 2020 came into force in stages with a long transitional period, with outdoor advertising for e-cigarettes and refill containers being the last to be included since the beginning of the year.

The tobacco and e-cigarette trade therefore had a very long time to find other advertising channels. After all, it was and still is important to generate new customers. The entire industry relies on this and immense resources are spent on it.

While the law was still being voted on, a comprehensive electronic upgrade for retailers began: monitors in and in front of supermarkets, kiosks, petrol stations, in and on every shop that sells tobacco products or e-cigarettes, no matter how marginal the proportion of the product group. Whether you are shopping for your daily needs, buying a newspaper, handing in your lottery ticket or filling up with petrol – nobody can avoid tobacco and e-cigarette advertising, not even children. This is ensured by the advertising screens and displays right next to the sweet shelves and at the checkouts.

Regrettably, this type of advertising is still permitted in all sales outlets – with the emphasis on “in” – but not on the outside walls and in shop windows. Due to the lack of a definition of the term “specialised trade” in the Tobacco Products Act, the tobacco and e-cigarette industry obviously felt encouraged to overstep its boundaries without hesitation. Until now.

But now Pro Rauchfrei has issued warnings to several petrol stations in Hesse and Bavaria and a kiosk (shop) in Cologne for unlawful outdoor advertising, and more will follow. In the case of the kiosk, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court has already issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the operator from using outdoor advertising as shown in this photo, for example, under threat of punishment:


Both the respective business owners and the advertising companies will do well to prepare themselves for the fact that they will have to comply with the law in future.