Geoff Barrett of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance claims that he tries to prevent underage smoking (Letters, 17 December). Yet the organisation he represents has consistently opposed health measures intended to do just that, including the recent ban on retail tobacco displays.
The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance has not always been clear about who funds its work, although we know that it receives funding from British American Tobacco, Gallaher/Japan Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco. The last of these is the company which took the tobacco display ban all the way to the Supreme Court, and last week saw five judges unanimously reject its claim that the ban was without evidence and outwith the Scottish Government’s remit. Given his connections, it is no surprise that Mr Barrett does not accept the tobacco display ban will be effective. Yet there is good evidence that tobacco displays normalise the idea of smoking among young people – after the recent display ban in Ireland there was an immediate drop in the number of young people who see smoking as a normal thing to do.
The tobacco industry’s own internal documents, which courts ordered to be released, also demonstrate that they are well aware of the power of promotional gantries to help them recruit new young smokers.
Smoking is a childhood addiction. Two-thirds of smokers start under the age of 18, and 40 per cent under the age of 16.
If Mr Barrett really is serious about stopping underage smoking, he should support the evidence-based measures passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliament and supported unanimously in the courts.