UK - Strategies to be implemented to prevent underage tobacco use..

December 9, 2008 - 'Protecting children from smoking is our goal' - Alan Johnson, United Kingdom's (Britain) Secretary of State for Health.

Over 96,000 responses were received to the Department of Health's consultation on the future of tobacco control - the largest ever response to a consultation of this kind. (Royal College of Physicians still pushing the use of SNUS..)

Responses overwhelmingly supported removing tobacco displays in shops, and tough action to restrict access to vending machines. Since the ban on tobacco advertising, retail displays in shops are the main way in which tobacco products are marketed to children. These measures will be taken forward in primary legislation through the Health Bill in the next parliamentary session.

Over eight in ten adults in Great Britain who have ever smoked regularly say that they started before they were 19. In England in 2007, nearly 200,000 children aged between 11-15 years of age were regular smokers. These children are 3 times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their mid-20s.

From October 2011 large shops will have had to remove all tobacco displays from the point of sales (POP) and smaller business es will have to comply by 2013. Government will work closely with retailers to develop regulations setting out detailed requirements. Where other countries have removed displays smoking prevalence among young people has fallen by up to 10 percent.

The measures to restrict access to vending machines will be brought in by 2011 and monitored to check they are working. If not working, then ministers will consider banning vending machines altogether in 2013. Vending machines are the primary source of cigarettes for nearly one in five young people aged 11 to 15 and children were able to use the machines in more than 40 percent of test purchases. The British Heart Foundation estimates that 46,000 children purchased their cigarettes from vending machines in 2006.

Communication with ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)UK - Alan Johnson is the Health Secretary for the whole of the United Kingdom but because health is one of the policy areas that is devolved to the 4 countries, some aspects of tobacco control are applied differently in the separate jurisdictions. The measures announced yesterday (12/9/2008) will apply to England and Wales but the Scottish parliament is likely to adopt similar measures, and may do so sooner than England.

On smoking in cars when kids are present, there are unlikely to be any further developments until the smokefree legislation is reviewed in 2010.

Reference: Stubbing out recruitment of young smokers, Department of Health, 12/9/2008 and Cigarettes displays in shops will be banned but not until 2013 by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor, Telegraph,, 12/9/2008.

Related news briefs: UK Planned Curbs On Smoking to be Axed..; British Considering Ban on Cigarette Displays..; Gruesome Photos on British Cigarette Packs..; Royal College of Physicians still pushing the use of SNUS..; Raise Age to 21 to Purchase Tobacco Products..; Britain to put picture warnings on ALL tobacco products..;