Tough restrictions on cigarette sales planned by health minister
PLANS to ban cigarette vending machines and tobacco displays in shops were set out by the Scottish Government today.
The sweeping changes to tobacco sales rules were revealed in a move aimed to protect future generations from smoking-related disease.
Public health minister Shona Robison said: "The health risks associated with smoking are both enormous and well documented.
"But stopping smoking is hard and the vast majority of smokers I've spoken to wish that they'd never started.
"So that's why the measures in this Bill are aimed at stopping children starting to smoke in the first place – by making it less accessible and less attractive to them."
The move is part of wider changes contained in the new Tobacco and Primary Medical Service (Scotland) Bill, which include a registration scheme for retailers and granting trading standards officers the power to fine retailers selling tobacco to under-18s.
Retailers who continue to break the law will be banned from selling tobacco.
The Bill will also close a loophole to prevent the privatisation of GP surgeries.
Ms Robison continued: "Point-of-sale marketing is a powerful tool and I believe it's totally inappropriate for cigarettes to be promoted in this way.
"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.
"Too many people have already watched loved ones suffer and die as a result of smoking-related illnesses. I'm determined that we must do all we can to protect future generations."
Retailers warned of the high cost to small shopkeepers and said the ban on displays will increase the fascination with smoking among young people.
John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers' Federation, said: "The Scottish Government's argument that tobacco displays encourage young people to smoke is simplistic and immature."
Shopkeepers may have to spend between 5,000 and 10,000 to comply with the new rules, he said. Government cash would be better spent stopping sales to under-18s.
Mr Drummond added: "Scottish Grocers' Federation is concerned a ban is more likely to increase young people's fascination in tobacco and could encourage smokers, who do not see tobacco on display in legitimate stores, to buy from rogue traders who are prepared to sell illicit products."
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