Packs ‘irrelevant’

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I read with interest Ash Scotland’s Sheila Duffy’s article and letter on plain packaging (2 October). Absent from both are two crucial pieces of evidence.

Firstly, in Scotland most young smokers obtain cigarettes via a “proxy purchase” – an adult buys them on the young person’s behalf. The kind of pack the cigarettes come in is simply irrelevant.

Secondly, the evidence shows overwhelmingly that smoking rates in the most deprived communities in Scotland remain disproportionately high – 40 per cent in the most deprived areas compared with 11 per cent in the least deprived.

Smoking in Scotland is primarily a problem of health inequality. These are (or should be) the key issues in the debate and plain packaging will simply not address them. The Scottish Grocers’ Federation advocates solely on behalf of local and community retailers. We do not want to see young people take up smoking.

All of our members fully accept that tobacco must be controlled and regulated and make strenuous efforts to ensure this happens.

They have voluntarily implemented the Challenge 25 age verification policy and fully comply with the requirements of the Tobacco Retail Registration scheme. This demonstrates their commitment to being responsible at all times.

John Lee

Scottish Grocers’ Federation

Queensferry Road

Edinburgh