England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..

December 11, 2008 - The open display of tobacco in shops is to be banned in England and Wales, the government has announced. Ministers hope the display ban, which is also under consideration in Scotland, will reduce smoking. Northern Ireland is yet to decide a policy. But plans for an outright ban on tobacco vending machines (The British Heart Foundation says a total ban on vending machines is the only way to prevent children accessing cigarettes.) and branding on cigarette packets (banning all promotional material from tobacco packaging) have been scrapped - at least for now.

Critics say the moves do not go far enough to stop young people smoking. A government consultation on how to deter young people from smoking launched six months ago found the "overwhelming majority" of 100,000 responses backed the display ban.

Health Secretary for England Alan Johnson said he had been impressed with evidence from other countries, suggesting the move would have an impact on smoking rates. Ministers say where other countries - such as Iceland and Canada - have removed displays, smoking prevalence among young people has fallen by up to 10%. Johnson said: "They (young people) see the point of sale display and as a result of seeing it, it encourages them to take up smoking. This is the key evidence as to why we have 200,000 11 to 15-year-olds smoking." He said people who start smoking in their youth - aged 11 to 15 - are three times more likely to die a premature death than someone who takes up smoking at the age of 20.

Mr Johnson said the big supermarkets would be asked first to remove their displays - in 2011 - followed by corner shops - in 2013.

Reference: Ban on tobacco displays announcedBBC News, 12/8/2009.

Related news briefs: UK - Strategies to be implemented to prevent underage tobacco use..; 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..;