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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Pack ban call to cut teen smoking
Stubbed out cigarette
The BMA wants to make it harder for teenagers to start smoking
Doctors have called for 10-packs of cigarettes and tobacco vending machines to be banned to tackle teenage smoking.

The British Medical Association's Scottish Council said the measures were needed to make tobacco harder for young people to buy.

The plan also includes introducing a licensing scheme for shops selling tobacco, similar to that already in place for alcohol retailers.

Figures released last year showed that 15% of 15-year-olds smoke regularly.

The BMA said that most smokers begin in adolescence, with evidence suggesting that the younger someone starts smoking, the less likely they are to give up.

Young people often buy cigarettes from vending machines because of the lack of age checks or they buy packs of 10 because they are cheaper
Dr Gavin Buist
BMA Scotland

The association believes that smaller 10-packs of cigarettes are more appealing to young people because they are cheaper to buy.

It said vending machines were often used by young people to buy cigarettes because there are no age checks in place.

The BMA proposals also include a ban on cigarettes being displayed at the point of sale in shops, and for long-term investment in preventing teenagers taking up smoking, with help for those already smoking to quit.

The Scottish Government is to raise the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18 next month.

Dr Andrew Buist, a member of the BMA's Scottish Council, said further measures needed to be introduced for the age increase to be successful in cutting the number of young people taking up smoking.

'Sales enforcement'

He said: "The age increase is only one step in reducing young people's access to tobacco. We must do all we can to stop youngsters getting hooked in the first place.

"Young people often buy cigarettes from vending machines because of the lack of age checks or they buy packs of 10 because they are cheaper.

"Addressing these two issues would significantly reduce the availability of cigarettes to young people."

Dr Buist said evidence suggested that the existing age limit for tobacco sales was not always properly enforced by retailers, which raised questions as to how effectively the age increase would be policed.

He added: "Only through a multi-faceted range of measures will we be able to tackle the biggest preventable cause of death in Scotland."

Welcoming the proposals, a spokeswoman for anti-smoking group Ash Scotland said: "It can't just be education - you have to cut off the supply.

"You have also got to make sure there are services available to young smokers to help them stop smoking as soon as possible."

Experts say it is vital to stop young people taking up smoking

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10 May 07 |  Scotland

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