February 26, 2009 - Cigarette sales in Scotland will be further restricted after ministers announced plans today to outlaw cigarette vending machines and ban shops from openly displaying tobacco. The sweeping measures will include a new registration scheme for shops selling tobacco products, on-the-spot fines for retailers who sell to under-18s and sales bans against retailers who continually sell to underage smokers.
Ministers have dropped plans to ban the sale of cigarettes in packs of 10 – a measure opposed by retailers – after admitting there were doubts the devolved government was legally empowered to do so. They will, however, press for a UK-wide ban.
Ministers and the chief medical officer for Scotland, Harry Burns, said stricter and more rigorously enforced controls were needed to protect public health, and particularly to stop children smoking. Scottish public health minister, Shona Robison, said radical steps were needed to prevent children being lured into smoking; research had shown that someone who started smoking at 15 was three times more likely to die of cancer than a smoker who began in their mid-20s. "Point of sale marketing is a powerful tool and I believe it's totally inappropriate for cigarettes to be promoted in this way," she said. "Similarly, I believe there is no place in a modern Scotland for cigarette vending machines – we wouldn't allow any other dangerous product to be sold in this way." It was found that underage smokers made more than a third of vending machine purchases: one in 10 smokers aged 13 and 15 had used them.
The ban on displaying cigarettes mirrors similar measures in England where, like Scotland, the new rules will come into force for larger shops in 2011 and smaller retailers in 2013.
In March 2006, Scotland became the first part of the UK to ban smoking in public places. In October 2008, the minimum age for buying tobacco was raised to 18 along with the rest of the UK.
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Reference: Scotland to ban cigarette displays in stores Crackdown includes outlawing vending machines after research found underage smokers are among their main users, Severin Carrell - Scotland correspondent, Guardian.co.uk, 2/26/2009.