STOP smoking health experts have welcomed a new law banning the unrestricted sale of cigarettes and tobacco from vending machines.
From October 1, it became illegal to sell any tobacco product from a vending machine directly to the public. Until now, vending machines have been an easy way for under-18s to buy cigarettes, especially when they are in unsupervised areas.
Tina Jones, Tobacco Control Programme Manager for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted this new law has been introduced. Evidence shows that it will help protect children from smoking.
“We know that the younger a child is when they start to smoke the greater the harm is likely to be. Early uptake of smoking is associated with heavier smoking and higher levels of addiction and more difficulty in quitting the habit in the future.”
The new legislation does not prohibit cigarette vending machines themselves so the machines can stay on the premises, but only as long as they can’t be used by the public to buy tobacco and do not have any tobacco advertising on show.
Owners or managers of premises housing these vending machines face fines of up to £5,000 and/or a possible two years imprisonment for not complying with the new rules.
Eleven per cent of all 11-15 year olds who regularly smoke say that they buy their cigarettes from vending machines. Derbyshire Community Health Services’ team of Stop Smoking Advisers help people of all ages to stop smoking and run a comprehensive programme in schools and youth groups to prevent the uptake of smoking.
For more information about stopping smoking, or for a free information pack on making your home smoke free, call Derbyshire Community Health Services Stop Smoking Service on 0800 085 2299 or 01246 868400.