UK may ban cigarettes display to discourage young smokers

December 9th, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 9 (IANS) Can’t see, won’t smoke. That is the British government’s logic behind a proposal to ban display of cigarette packets in stores to discourage children from taking to smoking.The department of health is expected to announce this new measure shortly. But the government will not go as far as recommending all cigarette packaging be plain with only the brand name and health warnings printed on them.

Tobacco products will not necessarily have to be placed under the counter but should not be visible. It could mean that cigarette packets are covered, placed in a cupboard or a back room in stores.

Government research has shown that children recognise many brands of cigarettes and prominent displays of products helps to reinforce their familiarisation which influences them to take up smoking, according to The Telegraph.

Official sources quote from a study in California found children aged between 11 and 14 were 50 percent more likely to smoke if they had been exposed to tobacco marketing in corner shops.

Displays of cigarettes also unnerve those on the verge of quitting, the government believes. The department of health said that shelves full of cigarettes also lure those trying to quit smoking into buying more packets.

The department conducted a survey of the general public to find out if the new measure is worth its while. Almost a third of smokers thought removing cigarette displays would help them to give up, it said.

Health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “It’s vital we get across the message to children that smoking is bad. If that means stripping out vending machines or removing cigarettes from behind the counter, I’m willing to do that.”

Among children in UK, nine percent of 11 to 15-year-olds smoke regularly, rising to one fifth of teenagers aged 16 to 19. More than three in ten 20-24 year-olds smoke, which is the highest of any age group.

There is a ban on smoking in public places, introduced in England in July 2007, and the government has also increased the legal age to buy tobacco to 18.

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