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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Efforts to tackle 'tobacco trap'
Children smoking
The BMA wants the cigarette purchase age increased to 18
A ban on the sale of 10-pack cigarettes is among a range of tough measures recommended in a report to protect children from the "tobacco trap".

The British Medical Association report also called for a rise in the cigarette purchase age to 18 from 16.

The doctors' body said it was preparing to lobby the new Scottish Parliament.

The report recommends licensing shops to sell cigarettes and keeping them under the counter. It said tobacco vending machines should be outlawed.

The BMA's UK-wide report looked at ways of "breaking the cycle" of children's exposure to tobacco smoke.

It said children exposed to cigarettes often went on to suffer from respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease.

It is essential we break the tobacco trap as the younger someone starts to smoke, the less likely they are to give up
Dr Andrew Thomson
Member of the BMA's board of science

Doctors have said children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke than those who do not, with 6% of 13-year-olds and 19% of 15-year-olds in Scotland now regular smokers.

Angus GP and Scottish member of the BMA's board of science, Dr Andrew Thomson, said Scotland's smoking ban had been a success and raised awareness of the dangers of tobacco smoke.

However, he said: "More must be done to make cigarettes more inaccessible to children.

"By increasing the purchase age to 18, banning 10-pack cigarettes and making tobacco products more expensive, fewer children will be able to buy them.

"It is essential we break the tobacco trap as the younger someone starts to smoke, the less likely they are to give up."

'Endanger children'

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of BMA science and ethics, said evidence from other countries indicates that smoking in the home goes down after smoke-free laws come into force.

She said: "The BMA report says that the only home that does not endanger children from tobacco is a smoke-free home.

"Measures such as opening windows or doors, smoking less, and not smoking in front of children simply don't work."

The report also calls for smoking cessation services to be adequately funded by health departments.

It says the services should be targeted at high-risk groups including pregnant mothers.

The doctors' group wants tax on all tobacco products increased at higher than inflation rates.

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