News item

Vend of an era

vend of an eraThe ban on cigarette machines came into force on October 1. Underage smokers will find it harder getting hold of cigarettes from Saturday as cigarette vending machines are officially banned in England.

The British Heart Foundation successfully campaigned for the ban to cut off an easy source of tobacco to children smokers.

Every year around 200,000 children and young people in England start smoking regularly (1) and 11 per cent of 11-15 year-old regular smokers in England and Wales get their cigarettes from vending machines (2).

More than half (56%) of trading standards test purchases with underage volunteers resulted in successful sales from vending machines in 2010/11 (3).

Betty McBride, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Thousands of children who are at risk of addiction regularly get tobacco from these machines, which of course, conveniently don’t ask them to prove their age. These children are often blissfully unaware of the damage smoking does to their health, and by the time they realise, they’re hooked.

“Scrapping these machines cuts off an easy source of tobacco for existing young smokers and makes it harder for a new generation to start. With the tobacco industry increasingly reliant on young smokers to bolster their profit margins, they’re fighting tooth and nail to stop any changes that might hit their bottom line. It’s more important than ever that we face down their protestations and protect our children from this deadly addiction.

“We’re encouraging landlords to remove machines completely now so they – and any left-over branding – don’t act as dusty old adverts for tobacco.”

The Trading Standards Institute's lead officer for health, Dennis Ager, said:"The sale of tobacco to children is a very serious matter. Banning sales of tobacco from vending machines is a necessary - and long overdue - step in the right direction to reducing smoking addiction in childhood and improving the public health of our communities.

“The ease with which children have been able to access cigarettes from these often unsupervised machines has been truly shocking and this ban is proportionate and necessary. Trading Standards will be working closely with businesses to help them comply with this new legislation, together with the requirement to scrap tobacco displays between 2012 and 2015."

The ban, which makes it illegal to sell tobacco from vending machines and requires landlords to ensure all tobacco advertising on the machines is removed, comes into force in England today. Northern Ireland intends to implement a ban from February 1, 2012, and both Scotland and Wales have committed to introducing a ban.

Other measures to protect young people from the dangers of smoking are also on the way. 

In April 2012 large retailers in England and Scotland will have to get rid of all tobacco displays and small shops will be expected to comply from April 2015. Wales and Northern Ireland also plan to implement similar regulations.

The UK Government is due to begin a public consultation before the end of the year on whether to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes which would lessen their marketing appeal to young people, help to make health warnings more effective and, alongside other measures, help to reduce the number of smokers in the long-term.

ENDS

For more information please call the BHF press office on 020 7554 0164 or 07764 290381 (out of hours) or email newsdesk@bhf.org.uk. For the Trading Standards Institute press office call 08456 089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1 Source: A Smokefree Future. A comprehensive tobacco control strategy for England.HM Government, 2010. (p10)

2 Source: Department for Health

3 Source: The Tobacco Control Survey 2010/11

In 2010, 27 per cent of 11-15 year-olds smoked at least once, with five per cent smoking at least once a week. (source: The Tobacco Control Survey 2010/11)

It will be illegal to sell cigarettes from vending machines from October 1 in England. Landlords are also required to ensure all tobacco advertising on the machines is removed. If tobacco products are sold, the owner or manager of the premises where the vending machine is located will be breaking the law.

For more information and support to quit smoking, visit www.wequit.co.uk

The British Heart Foundation is the nation’s heart charity, dedicated to saving lives through pioneering research, patient care, campaigning for change and by providing vital information. But we urgently need help. We rely on donations of time and money to continue our life-saving work. Because together we can beat heart disease. For more information visit bhf.org.uk/pressoffice

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and ECCS. www.tradingstandards.gov.uk