Cigarette Machines, Tobacco Displays to be Banned in Scotland
In an effort to curb child smoking in Scotland, cigarette vending machines and tobacco displays in shops will be banned under proposed legislation. Retailers would also have to partake in a registration scheme.
Retailers are worried that the new legislation will affect their sales and hurt business, and suspect that the laws won't do much to curb smoking anyway. Those who ignore the laws or repeatedly violate the rules will face fines.
The Scottish Government wants to cut the number of young smokers to less than 23% by 2012.
Recent figures showed the number of young people smoking in Scotland had returned to a level last seen almost 10 years ago.
Measures under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill would also see shopkeepers banned from selling cigarettes if they continually break the law.
Tobacco Retailers Alliance representative Fiona Barrett claims that "this display ban is nothing more than a gimmick so the government can get a few headlines," adding that "this has little to do with youth smoking." Barrett suggests there is no evidence to support the efficacy of this model as a successful means to discourage youth from smoking.
Contrary to Barrett's suggestion that there is no 'proof' that this legislation will work, similar bans in England, Wales, Iceland and Canada which outlaw cigarette machines and displays have indeed shown a drop in youth smoking rates:
In Iceland, which has the longest experience of any such ban, smoking among 15 year olds fell from 18.6% in 1999 to 13.6% in 2003 - two years after the law was introduced.
Rates have continued to drop and in 2007 stood at 11.1%.
In Canada, smoking rates among 15 to 19 year olds fell from 29% in 2002 to 19% in 2007 - five years after the first ban was introduced.
The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer found that tobacco displays "normalised" cigarette use for children, indicated that cigarettes could be easily obtained, and allowed teenagers to easily recall tobacco brands.
Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, claimed the ban was unnecessary and unjustified, adding: "The last thing we need in the midst of recession is further regulation that will facilitate illicit trade in tobacco products and impact adversely on thousands of small retailers and the communities they serve."
Scottish shops may have to spend up to £5000 in order to implement the changes.