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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Concern over tobacco restrictions
Cigarettes on a shop shelf
Ms Robison says trading officers are enthusiastic about the plans
MSPs have expressed enforcement concerns over plans to raise the tobacco-buying age from 16 to 18.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to back the move, which has gained cross-party support, on Thursday.

Holyrood's health committee heard the plan does not currently involve increasing trading standards staff.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said she hoped for more resources in the UK comprehensive spending review of the country's public services.

The age-raising move, which would come into force in October, was backed by the previous Scottish administration.

I would be hopeful that we will have additional resources for this important piece of work
Shona Robison
Public Health Minister

Committee member Mary Scanlon said she was disappointed that there had been no commitment to increasing resources for trading standards officers.

"Given that this is to be implemented in October and we're only considering the comprehensive spending review around the end of November, I think there is a concern over enforcement on this issue," said the Tory MSP.

Liberal Democrat Ross Finnie, the former environment minister, added: "I'm in no doubt that trading officers were equally enthusiastic several years ago about enforcing the current law, but it hasn't worked and I do think we have to hear more positively about how that enforcement is to be pursued."

The minister pointed out that the timing of the spending review was outwith the Scottish Government's control.

Ms Robison added: "The comprehensive spending review will be shortly resolved and we'll know then what resources we have for trading standards officers and I would be hopeful that we will have additional resources for this important piece of work.

"Trading standards officers are very supportive of these measures and want to be getting out there and helping us to prevent retailers selling to underage young people.

"They are very enthusiastic about this measure."

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