Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Plans to stop cigarette displays

Cigarettes in shop
Plans have been announced to remove cigarette displays in shops

The Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, has announced plans to remove cigarette displays in shops in Northern Ireland.

The move, if approved by the Assembly, would also restrict access to cigarette vending machines for those under 18.

"My goal is to protect children from smoking and I believe that this is a strong opportunity to do just that," Mr McGimpsey said.

"Smoking is a life-threatening habit and we should do everything we can to reduce its prevalence."

In a statement, the Department of Health said that if the plans went ahead, both it and local councils would work with "relevant organisations in order to provide support and to minimise any burden on business".

It added that it hoped the new measures would come into effect in Northern Ireland next year.

Mr McGimpsey said the proposed changes would "primarily benefit children and young people" but would also "help those adults who are trying to quit".

"Following the introduction of smoke-free legislation, we have enjoyed some success of late with over 21,000 people setting a quit date through smoking cessation services in 2007/08 and this is something I wish to build upon," he added.

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