Sainsbury’s has become the first major supermarket to announce a ban on the sale of fireworks across all of its 2,300 stores.
The company revealed the news in a tweet to a customer who had expressed concern about the “distress” that fireworks cause to pets and wildlife.
The supermarket replied: “We won’t be selling fireworks in any of our stores this year. Hope this helps!”
The news has been welcomed by animal charities and campaigners. Scottish National Party MP Alison Thewliss tweeted: “Really pleased to see Sainsbury’s have taken the responsible decision to stop selling fireworks. I hope other retailers follow suit.”
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Who wants a ban?
Last year, a petition to ban the public sale of fireworks to protect animals, children and people with a phobia attracted more than 300,000 signatures, the BBC reports.
And a total of 750,000 people have signed petitions expressing concern about fireworks through the petitions.parliament.uk site in the past three years.
However, the Government argues that the current rules strike “the right balance between allowing enjoyment of fireworks, respecting traditions, ensuring safely and avoiding undue nuisance”.
All the same, Sainsbury’s decision has won widespread applause. A spokesperson for the Dogs Trust congratulated the supermarket and “encouraged others to do the same”.
“Although they can look beautiful, fireworks can be very distressing for dogs when let off unexpectedly, and because they are so easily accessible all year round, dog owners are on tenterhooks as to when their beloved pooch will next be frightened,” the spokesperson continued.
Mental health charities have also welcomed the move. Combat Stress, which supports former members of the armed forces, said: “Bonfire night can be an especially difficult time for many combat veterans with mental health issues, with the loud bangs, bright lights and strong smells from fireworks causing serious anguish.”
What are the current rules?
A wide range of fireworks are available for legal purchase throughout the year, providing the customer is 18 years old and the retailer is properly licensed.
Customers can buy fireworks from temporarily registered sellers between 15 October to 10 November, 26 to 31 December, and for the three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.
UK law says that fireworks must not be set off between 11pm and 7am, except on special occasions such as Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve, reports Metro.
Selling or using fireworks illegally can result in a fine of up to £5,000 or a maximum of six months in prison. “You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90,” says the government website.