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Government Urged To Ban Cigarette Vending

Following government announcements this week (9th Dec) to bring in legislation to ban the promotion of cigarettes in shops and supermarkets, many concerned groups are disappointed that the measures don't go far enough.

But on channel 4 news, Alan Johnson Health Minister made it clear that the ban on displaying cigarettes at the point of sale will not take place until 2013. Concern over the health of individuals and smoking seemed to have been put on the back burner as Peter Mandelson was able to have the date for implementation put back until 2013. Concern for the fact that it is claimed that 2,600 small shop keepers will be put out of business carried the Tories argument that this is once again an act of the 'nanny state'.

Speaking at noon today on BBC TV, Dawn Primelo MP said that the evidence regarding cigarette vending machines and children smoking was not there and as such they could not go down this road at present. This issue was again raised during the news item on Channel 4 news.

This is disputed by The British Heart Foundation who has set up a campaign to ban cigarette vending machines, a source of easy access to cigarettes that children may come across. Statistics show that More than 1 in 6 children and young people in England who are regular smokers usually buy their cigarettes from vending machines.

The simple fact is that smoking-related illnesses are responsible for the deaths of around 114,000 people
every year according to Action on Smoking and Health reports.

Further, according to the British Heart Foundation, utilising figures from several sources including the British Medical Journal, it remains the case that despite a range of tobacco control measures being implemented, smoking rates amongst children remain consistently high and hundreds of children each day continue to take up smoking. Young people who smoke are at serious risk of developing life-shortening conditions. People who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to suffer tobacco-related mortality and morbidity, and succumb to tobacco-related diseases earlier.

BHF's cigarette vending machine ban campaignThe British Heart Foundation also says that a survey by LACORS ( the organisation responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory services in the UK), reporting on test purchases by young people under the supervision of trading standards officers showed that there was an almost two-fold increase in illegal sales of tobacco to minors in the six months from October 2007 to March 2008 compared with the same period in 2006/7.

The study found that young people were able to buy cigarettes from coin-operated vending machines on more than four in ten occasions, with a number of councils reporting a 100% successful purchase rate. Purchasing cigarettes from vending machines was the most successful way for young people to get hold of cigarettes.

It was almost twice as successful compared to other ways tested such as purchasing cigarettes from a newsagent, off licence or petrol station kiosk.

The BHF's campaign website urges support for the argument that cigarette machines should be banned and ask all concerned with this issue to sign their on-line petition:

"Smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease. Even so, hundreds of young people under 18 take up smoking every day. We want to reduce the number of young people who are putting their health at risk. To help do this, we want to see an immediate ban on the sale of cigarettes from vending machines. It is against the law for anyone under 18 to use these machines, but we estimate that as many as 46,000 children get their cigarettes from vending machines in England and Wales."

You can add your name to the petition by clicking on the image to the right above.

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