Last gasp for cigarette vending machines
- Published on Monday, 03 October 2011 12:34
- Posted by Scott Buckler
From today, the sale of tobacco from vending machines is prohibited across England. The ban has been introduced to prevent under-age sales to children and to support adults who are trying to quit
Nearly all of adult smokers started smoking before they turned 18 and every year over 300,000 children try smoking for the first time. Of the children who regularly smoke, 11 per cent buy their cigarettes from vending machines.
Cigarette vending machines are often unsupervised, making it easy for children to buy cigarettes from them. It is estimated that 35 million cigarettes are sold illegally through vending machines to children every year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“Smoking is one of the biggest and most stubborn challenges in public health. Over eight million people in England still smoke and it causes more than 80,000 deaths each year.
“Cigarette vending machines are often unsupervised, making it easy for children to purchase cigarettes from them. The ban on cigarette sales from vending machines will protect children by making cigarettes less accessible to them - we want to do everything we can to encourage young people not to start smoking in the first place.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:
“More that 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year, and nearly all smokers start smoking regularly before they turn 18. We know that 11per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds who regularly smoke say that they buy cigarettes from vending machines. We want to stop young people starting smoking – and we believe this will reduce the numbers of new smokers and support people who are trying to quit.
“Seven out of ten current smokers want to give up smoking, and anyone considering giving up smoking should get in touch with their local NHS stop Smoking Service for free help, advice and support.”
Jo Butcher, the National Children’s Bureau’s programme director of health and wellbeing, said:
“The National Children’s Bureau welcomes the ban on cigarette vending machines. A person’s lifetime smoking or non-smoking behaviour is heavily influenced by their decisions in adolescence. Children and young people tell us that external influences make it even more difficult for them to choose healthier lifestyles. It’s essential that we create environments that improve health and tobacco legislation is an important part of public health protection and promotion”.
The ban of cigarette sales from vending machines is part of Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England that the Government announced on 9 March. It sets out the Department of Health’s aims to reduce smoking rates in England by the end of 2015:
from 21 per cent to 18.5 per cent or less among adults;
from 15 per cent to 12 per cent or less among 15 year olds; and
from 14 per cent to 11 per cent or less among pregnant mothers.
From today, anyone caught selling cigarettes from a vending machine may be fined up to £2,500. Any person found guilty of displaying cigarette adverts on a vending machine could face imprisonment for up to six months, or a fine of £5,000, or both.