NTUC FairPrice pilots cigarette machine to comply with tobacco display ban

SINGAPORE - Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice unveiled a cigarette sales machine on Wednesday (March 16) designed to comply with a new law which will ban retailers from displaying tobacco products from next year.

The machine, which will be piloted at NTUC FairPrice Xpress at Peace Centre for three months, is design to replace behind-the-counter cigarette displays.

Customers specify the brand and type of cigarette they want at the cashier, after which the cashier prints out a ticket and scans it at the machine, which dispenses the cigarette pack. Each machine can hold up to 80 varieties of cigarettes, and 20 packs of each variety.

If successful, the machine will be launched in phases at selected NTUC FairPrice and Cheers convenience store outlets.

The target for phase one is 20-30 machines at FairPrice and Cheers outlets by the end of the year. Outlets without machines will have their cigarette displays covered by sliding doors to comply with the new regulations.

The machine also tracks inventory, and reduces labour for employees who have to take cigarette stock between shifts.

FairPrice chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng said: "FairPrice supports the Government's efforts in protecting the health of Singaporeans. This pilot system is an industry first in Singapore that facilitates tobacco sales efficiently without actively promoting the products within."

On Monday, Parliament approved a ban on the point-of-sale display of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, beedis (hand-rolled cigarettes) and "ang hoon", or loose tobacco leaves.

The new measures are aimed at preventing impulse buys, especially among young people.

Duty-free shops at Changi Airport will be exempt from the new rules, and specialist tobacco stores will also be allowed to display their products, as long as they are not visible from outside the shops.