Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 12:45 UK

Cigarette ban proposals welcomed

Cigarettes on a shop shelf and a man standing in the background
Mr Johnson said measures were needed to stop children smoking

Plans to ban the open display of cigarettes in Scottish shops have been welcomed by the UK health secretary.

Alan Johnson said it was important to stop children from taking up smoking.

But he told BBC One's Andrew Marr show that Scottish Government plans to ban 10-packs of cigarettes would "have to be looked at".

Ministers last week announced a raft of plans to restrict and enforce tobacco sale in the drive to cut smoking - one of Scotland's biggest killers.

Other proposed measures, some of which would need the co-operation of Westminster, included tobacco licensing and a move to plain packaging for cigarettes.

Mr Johnson said the UK Government was considering similar moves.

Whether you should still be able to buy 10 cigarettes or whether you should insist that you can only buy 20, that's an issue we need to look at
Alan Johnson
UK health secretary

He said: "Banning vending machines, where you can't have any control over the age of the person who's buying it, happened in many other European countries a long time ago, with startling results there."

The health secretary went on: "The ability to buy 10 cigarettes - I'm going to have to confess I started smoking very young when I was a kid, and you could get 10 woodbines, and you could get thrupenny singles.

Well they've taken thrupenny singles away. Whether you should still be able to buy 10 cigarettes or whether you should insist that you can only buy 20, that's an issue we need to look at."

It is two years since Scotland led the UK in banning smoking in enclosed public places, and six months since the legal age for buying cigarettes was raised to 18.

Mr Johnson's comments were welcomed by anti-smoking group Ash - but pro-smoking organisation Forest has dismissed the Scottish plans.

Smoking in Scotland is responsible for about 13,000 deaths and 33,500 hospital admissions each year at a cost of 200m to the health service.


SEE ALSO
Tobacco display ban plan unveiled
21 May 08 |  Scotland
Shop tobacco ban 'makes no sense'
21 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Legal smoking age to rise to 18
13 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Smokers in poorer areas targeted
05 May 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Cigarette display ban considered
24 Mar 08 |  UK Politics
Praise for smoke quitting mothers
25 Mar 08 |  Tayside and Central
'Next big challenge' on smoking
26 Mar 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Smoking ban law given green light
28 Apr 05 |  Scotland

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