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Cigarette machines are now illegal

Monday, 3rd October 2011.

Suffolk’s Trading Standards team is reminding pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants across the county that selling cigarettes in vending machines directly to the public is now entirely illegal.

In a bid to tackle underage smoking, the countrywide ban came into place from Saturday, preventing cigarettes being sold from machines in public spaces.

MPs initially approved the ban in 2009 as part of the former government’s Health Bill. The Department of Health (DoH) is now working with local trading standards teams to enforce the new law, and hopes this will contribute to a significant decline in under-age smoking in the UK.

Cllr Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: “It is absurd when you consider that potentially anyone can purchase cigarettes from these machines, regardless of age.

"This is why I am so pleased that we’re taking action to stop this practice in our pubs and public places. It is a positive step to nip the problem of under-age smoking in the bud, and I am confident that we will benefit in Suffolk.”

The British Heart Foundation estimated that 46,000 children aged between 11 and 15 used the machines to buy tobacco across England and Wales in 2006.

In late 2010, Suffolk Trading Standards ran an operation to monitor how many venues prevented under-age young people purchasing cigarettes from vending machines.

The outcome was a 100 per cent failure rate, with none of the 15 inspected premises challenging young people about their age.

Steve Greenfield, county trading standards officer, said: “Our work in Suffolk, in conjunction with the work of trading standards colleagues across the country, has been instrumental in getting this ban introduced.

"Our routine checks have shown not only that cigarette vending machines are well used, but that their greatest users are often below the legal age of 18.

"We will be strictly enforcing this new law, with a fine of up to £2,500 for any premises which continues to sell tobacco products in this way.”

Pubs will still be able to sell cigarettes and tobacco from behind the bar, but must carry out proof of age checks.

The fine of up to £2,500 applies to anyone who continues to allow customers to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products directly from vending machines.

Anyone found guilty of an offence in relation to tobacco advertisements is liable to a more serious penalty such as a fine of up to £5,000 or a period of imprisonment.

Dr Peter Bradley, director of public health for Suffolk, said: “This legislation forms a crucial part of our objective to reduce the uptake of smoking amongst young people.

"Removing access to tobacco from vending machines will help to protect future generations from becoming addicted to a product that is still the greatest cause of preventable death, disease and disability.”

Haverhill Online News

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