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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Doctors call for teen smoking cut
Cigarette broken in half
BMA Wales have produced a five-point plan to cut smoking
Cigarette vending machines and packets of 10 should be banned as a way to cut underage smoking, doctors in Wales say.

They have called on assembly government ministers to reduce the availability of cigarettes. The minimum age for buying tobacco rises from 16 to 18 next month.

The chief medical officer for Wales welcomed the support "to discourage young people from taking up the habit".

Pro-smoking lobby group Forest called BMA Wales's ideas "absurd" and called for education on lifestyle choice.

From 1 October, the minimum age for buying tobacco products will increase from 16 to 18 years in a bid to cut the number of young smokers.

Wales banned smoking in public places in April, 13 weeks before England.

BMA WALES FIVE-POINT PLAN
Cigarette packets
Ban cigarette vending machines
Ban packs of 10
License tobacco sales outlets
Ban cigarette display stands
More "stop-smoking" work

BMA Cymru Wales said the ban would save 400 lives a year in Wales although smoking among young people remained "stubbornly high".

It said ministers should take five short and long-term measures to tackle teen smoking.

The BMA's Welsh secretary Dr Richard Lewis said: "Most smokers begin in adolescence and the younger someone starts smoking, the less likely they are to give up.

"We must restrict access to cigarettes to young people.

"One of the ways that we can do this is to ban vending machines and restrict the sale of packs of 10. We must do all we can to stop youngsters getting hooked in the first place."

BMA Wales wants the sale of tobacco to be licensed in the same way as alcohol, with cigarettes also banned from being on display in stores.

The BMA in Scotland called for similar measures today.

The organisation at a UK level earlier this year produced a report to look at ways of "breaking the cycle" of children's exposure to tobacco smoke.

Children smoking
The legal age for buying tobacco rises to 18 from next month

The doctors' action plan also calls for young people's attitude to smoking to be challenged through "continual investment in smoking prevention and cessation services".

Neil Rafferty, spokesperson for the Freedom of the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), agreed that smoking was "very much a choice for adults to make" but criticised BMA Wales's ideas on how to cut teenage smoking.

He said: "Banning vending machines will only deny choice to adults.

"The idea of banning a pack of 10 is absurd. If teenagers can afford to buy a pack of 10 twice a week, they can afford to buy a pack of 20.

"It's nothing more than a gesture from the BMA and they should go back to the drawing board and think up something sensible.

"What we need to do is educate teenagers better about the choices they can make in their lives as adults, rather than constantly taking away choice from adults."

A spokesman for Dr Tony Jewell, chief medical officer for Wales, said: "The assembly government has invested in a range of initiatives to educate young people so that they do not start smoking.

"We are supporting the move to raise the legal age at which people can buy tobacco from 16 to 18 on 1 October.

"The ban on smoking in enclosed public places will also have a huge impact on the health of the people of Wales and we expect it help more smokers to quit.

"The All Wales Smoking Cessation Service has reported that since the ban was introduced they have seen an increase in the number of people contacting them throughout Wales rise by about 10%."




SEE ALSO
Pack ban call to cut teen smoking
07 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Efforts to tackle 'tobacco trap'
22 Apr 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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