Page last updated at 23:33 GMT, Sunday, 13 September 2009 00:33 UK

Criminalise tobacco supply call

Cigarette being stubbed out
Targets have been set to cut the number of young smokers

The Scottish Government has been urged to toughen up proposed new tobacco laws to stop adults buying cigarettes for underage smokers.

The parliament's health committee said ministers should make it a criminal offence to buy tobacco for under-18s.

The committee's call came during its consideration of government plans to curb the number of young smokers.

Scottish ministers have said they want to cut the proportion to less than 23% by 2012.

The drive came amid recent figures from health officials which indicated the number of young people smoking in Scotland had returned to a level last seen almost 10 years ago.

Deterrents 'necessary'

The government's plans, brought forward in the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill, would ban stores from displaying cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The legislation would also outlaw cigarette vending machines and introduce a registration system for tobacco retailers.

Health committee convener and SNP MSP Christine Grahame, said: "Everyone agreed that deterrents to stop young people smoking are necessary and this is why we are calling for the bill to be amended to criminalise the act of buying cigarettes on behalf of under-18s."

Public Health Minister Shona Robison has agreed to consider the measure.

Most committee members backed a tobacco vending machine and cigarette display ban - although they accepted businesses such as shops would face costs in complying with the latter proposal.

The committee also largely backed measures in the bill to exclude certain people or private firms from providing GP services through health board contracts.

But some MSPs said community co-operatives should be allowed to hold such contracts.

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