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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 01:27 GMT 02:27 UK
'I still won't give up'
By Niki Cardwell
BBC News

Holly and Laura
Holly and Laura started smoking aged 11
From today it will be against the law for anyone to sell cigarettes, or any tobacco product, to anyone under the age of 18.

The campaign about the change has been relatively low key, mainly targeting teenagers and shopkeepers.

The law will be enforced by Trading Standards Officers, who have been sending out information packs.

But many shopkeepers say they've had no official notification about how it will affect them.

Aftab Shah runs a convenience store in Luton. Most of his customers come from a comprehensive school on the other side of the road and a further education college just around the corner.


He says the change in the law is going to make his life a misery.

"We haven't even been told anything officially, nothing from the local authorities, just what we've seen in the media. It's going to be a lot of hard work for us.

"All the teenagers who are over 16 have been buying their cigarettes from us for a long time. With the law now going up to 18, we're going to be getting a lot of grief from them."

Young woman
The aim is to get young people to give up

He says the changes will hit him financially. He anticipates he will lose trade and may even have to employ more staff, as checking everyone's age will be time-consuming.

The government wants to prevent young people from starting to smoke and help those who already do to stop.

The NHS estimates that around 9% of 11 to 15-years-old and 26% of 16 to 19-year-olds are smokers.

Ministers hope bringing the legal age of smoking in line with alcohol will reinforce the dangers to young people. But will it work?

Laura, 17, has been smoking since she was 11. She says the changes will not make her quit.


"I was at school when I started smoking. Someone just handed me a fag and I took it. I've been smoking ever since.

"I can't believe they're changing the law. I waited until I was 16 to start buying them and now I'm going to have to wait until I'm 18. I don't think smoking is that big a deal, so I don't think it's right."

She says she will get her parents to buy her cigarettes until she is old enough to get them herself.

Law will be enforced by Trading Standards

"They are bothered that I smoke, but my mum smokes too so she doesn't really like to say that I can't do it too, and since I turned 16 it was legal. Now the law has changed I don't know how she's going to feel about that."

Her 17-year-old friend, Holly, has also been smoking since she was 11. She agrees the changes in the law will not stop her getting cigarettes.

"I'll just get my mum to go out and get them for me," she says.

"She won't mind. I have tried to stop, but I can't. I do think of the health risks.

"Since I've come to college to do a beauty course I haven't smoked as much. Doing what I do you have to have clean hands and not smell of smoke so I have cut back. This could be the incentive I need to give up."

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