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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 02:58 GMT
Tobacco advert rules introduced
Health Secretary John Reid
Dr Reid: Advertising will be 'rightly confined to a small area'
Cigarette advertising restrictions - described as some of the strictest in the world - come into force on Tuesday.

In shops, pubs and clubs the total advertising space for all tobacco companies will be limited to an A5-sized area.

That area, about the size of a paperback book, must also include a health warning covering 30%.

For breaches of the Tobacco Advertising Act, fines of up to 5,000 or five months in prison can be imposed.

Vending machines

The regulations, enforced by Trading Standards officers, also mean that vending machines will only be able to carry a picture of the products on sale.

The strict rules came after a victory by the Department of Health in a legal battle against tobacco manufacturers who wanted to overturn the regulations in October.

The industry argues they are unnecessarily draconian, and in effect prevent them from going about their legitimate business.

The department said the regulations were among the strictest in the world and mean that people would no longer be "bombarded" by large, colourful tobacco advertising at supermarkets or corner shops.

"The advertising will be rightly confined to a small area and only on the place where the tobacco is displayed," said Health Secretary John Reid.

"This is one element of our plans to help people stop smoking and reduce the numbers of people who take up the habit."

'Addictive and deadly'

Every year around 106,000 people die as a result of smoking in the UK.

"Tobacco advertising and sponsorship have encouraged children and young teenagers to start smoking by promoting the image of smoking as glamorous," Dr Reid said.

"We know that this is not the case - it is addictive and deadly."

The advertising restrictions were welcomed by Cancer Research UK.

"Point of sale has been an opportunity for tobacco companies to promote their deadly products and we are pleased that this loophole has now been closed," said director of tobacco control, Jean King.

"We fully support a ban on all tobacco advertising and promotion because research shows it saves lives," she added.

Graham Archard, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "We welcome this move but question whether it will make any real difference.

"People buy cigarettes because they are addicted, not because the machine or kiosk has a picture on it.

"The more difficult option, which ministers avoided last month, is to ban smoking in enclosed public places - something we are still calling for."

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