Tobacco wrongs

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Further to your article “40 a day – new young smokers” (14 February), there is no credible evidence linking tobacco packaging with children taking up smoking.

The actual evidence suggests that children who do take up smoking do so because of the influence of peer pressure or family members who smoke.

As a responsible local retailer, I support every sensible approach to deter youngsters from smoking. These include: prosecuting those who are involved in proxy purchasing of tobacco for those who are underage; proof of age schemes; giving more resources to our hard-pressed enforcement agencies; and stiffening the penalties for the criminals involved in counterfeiting and smuggling.

Plain packaging would make it much easier to fake the packs and attract new criminals into the market who do not have the expertise to counterfeit the complicated existing packs. These criminals think nothing of offering their illegal tobacco to young people – the very people we are all trying to protect.

In tough economic conditions, does it really make sense to be introducing a measure that fails to meet the evidence test when community shops like mine are struggling to make a living because many smokers are already sourcing their tobacco from illegal, cheaper supplies? Cracking down on the criminals who sell illicit tobacco in our communities would be a more effective way of preventing children’s access to tobacco, as well as supporting local retailers. For once, it would be good to see common sense prevail.

Geoff Barrett

Scottish spokesperson for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance