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Tobacco promotion crackdown starts

A ban on tobacco promotion comes into force in a bid to cut down on the number of people smoking.

The new legislation means all large shops and supermarkets in England must cover up cigarettes and hide tobacco products from public view.

The Department of Health said the move was in response to evidence that cigarette displays in shops can encourage young people to take up the habit.

More than 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year and 5% of children aged 11 to 15 are regular smokers, according to its figures. Meanwhile 39% of smokers say that they were smoking regularly before the age of 16.

Health Minister Anne Milton said: "We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by colourful, eye-catching, cigarette displays. Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and we need to stop this trend.

"Banning displays of cigarettes and tobacco will help young people resist the pressure to start smoking and help the thousands of adults in England who are currently trying to quit."

Under the new rules all tobacco products must be kept out of sight except when staff are serving customers or carrying out other day-to-day tasks such as restocking. Those found not complying with the law could be fined up to £5,000 or face imprisonment.

The ban on displays will roll out to smaller shops and businesses in three years time while the Government is also consulting on introducing plain packaging for packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the ban was part of a move to ensure "we no longer see smoking as a part of life". On BBC Breakfast he dismissed the suggestion that smoking could become more attractive to young people if it is kept hidden and insisted the key issue was about "shifting the culture".

Jean King, of Cancer Research UK, told the programme there was "no positive use" for tobacco and no known safe level of use, adding: "We need to do everything we can to prevent young people getting hold of cigarettes."


From Belfast Telegraph