Discount Retail Chain Lidl Denmark (owned by the German Schwarz Group) will be the first grocery chain in Denmark, Lidl will phase out tobacco products. Sales will stop by the end of 2028. By the end of 2028 at the latest, it will no longer be possible to buy tobacco products in Lidl's 139 stores in Denmark.
Already during the summer, Lidl will remove 20 percent of cigarettes from shelves, while a new tobacco-free store will open Thursday in Hjørring. Khalil Jehya Taleb, Vice Purchasing Director at Lidl Denmark, believes that the chain has a great responsibility towards the individual consumer. "It has to be done in the right way, and that's why we've chosen to phase it out over a period of five years," he said.
"We hope customers will respond positively to the initiative and will choose Lidl based on our other food products. Lidl is a partner in "Smoke-Free Future", which is a collaboration between TrygFonden and the Danish Cancer Society with a vision to make Denmark smoke-free. For this reason, the chain has decided that it is the right measure to support the project and contribute to a "good agenda".
The deputy purchasing director would not put a figure on how much revenue the discount chain will miss out on. He hopes the initiative spreads to Lidl's competitors. "There is no doubt that we will lose revenue. But it is more important that we support the Danish Cancer Society's agenda of a smoke-free generation", he says. "If our colleagues in the industry are interested in a faster phase-out, we will also look into it."
Niels Them Kjær, project manager for tobacco prevention at the Danish Cancer Society, is confident that the initiative can boost solutions that reduce the number of smokers.
"This is a big step and may one day lead to a definitive stop to the sale of tobacco and nicotine," he said. "It will only really have an effect if it spreads to more chains."
Since January last year, a cigarette pack has cost around 60 kroner.
At the same time, tobacco must not be visible on the shelves, and no more colourful packages. But it does not appear that legislation in this area has caused many more people to give up tobacco.
According to the study "Danes' smoking habits 2022", prepared by the National Institute of Public Health, almost every fifth Dane smokes. Niels Them Kjær therefore looks at Lidl's initiative with great pleasure. "It opens up completely new opportunities for tobacco prevention, and it means that fewer children and young people start smoking. At the same time, it will be easier for those who try to quit, he believes.
Lidl Netherlands has previously put an end to the sale of tobacco. The measure spread to large parts of the country, and from next year Dutch supermarkets will not be allowed to sell tobacco products.
The project manager hopes that the same will happen in Denmark. "It might be a bit of a wild dream. But with the experience we have from the Netherlands, I think it could be a wave that spreads," he says. Lidl expects to open more than 60 new stores in Denmark in the coming years. All new stores will be tobacco-free.