The end of tobacco vending machines

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A BAN on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products from vending machines has been hailed as a significant step toward reducing the availability of these harmful products to children and young people.

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Substance Misuse Team are announcing that from 1st October

2011 it will be illegal to sell tobacco products from vending machines. It will also be against the law for the machines to display any tobacco advertisements or pictures of tobacco products.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Consumer Protection said: “This ban will effectively mean the end of tobacco vending machines in pubs, clubs and other businesses and this is good news for the health of our children and young people.”

“We know that young people are buying tobacco products from these machines and are doing so in proportionately larger numbers than adults because they are often located in unsupervised locations.

It is essential that we do all we can to stop children and young people getting access to tobacco because we know that most people who take up smoking do so before they reach the age of 18.”

Sue Weston, NHS Warwickshire Smokefree Co-ordinator, added: “Half of all people smoking today will eventually die as a result of their habit and half of these will die prematurely in middle age, losing 20-25 years of life expectancy. Banning the sale of tobacco from these machines will make it more difficult for the 46,000 11-15 year old regular smokers who obtained cigarettes from vending machines in England and Wales in 2006 to obtain these in the future.”

Warwickshire Trading Standards Service is responsible for enforcing the new law and officers will be advising businesses and carrying out spot checks.

Businesses should immediately make arrangements with the vending machine operator to have it removed. If the machine is still on the premises after 1st October 2011 they must ensure that it is inoperative and all tobacco advertising and promotion material is removed or is covered up.

It is a criminal offence for any sales of tobacco or any advertising or promotion of tobacco products from vending machines after 1st October 2011. Businesses who fail to act could face prosecution and subsequent fines.

A Department of Health leaflet about the ban has been sent out to 64,000 locations across England including hotels, B&Bs, pubs, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, bingo halls, casinos, railway stations, cinemas, theatres and bookmakers.

There is also guidance for businesses on the Warwickshire website: visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fairtrading or businesses can phone 01926 414040 or email: tradingstandards@warwickshire.gov.uk.

‘Smokers wanting to kick the habit can get help from their local NHS Stop Smoking service, who are on hand to give tips, support and advice to adults and young people from the age of 12 upwards, by calling 0800 085 2917, texting “LIFE” to 80800 or visiting www.smokefreewarwickshire.org’.