BBC Home > BBC News > Scotland

Bid to tighten under-18 smoke ban

4 November 09 07:26 GMT

Scottish government ministers have agreed to toughen up proposed laws on tobacco sales to make it illegal for under-18s to buy cigarettes.

If agreed by parliament, it would also be against the law to buy tobacco products for those under age.

Under current laws only the retailer commits an offence when someone under the age of 18 is sold cigarettes.

Holyrood's Health Committee recommended changes in the new Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill.

Ministers hope that the new legislation will limit the number of young smokers taking up the habit.

If this bill becomes law, it will be illegal for anyone under age to buy cigarettes. It will also be against the law to buy them for someone else under-18.

This would bring the law on the sale of tobacco products in line with that on alcohol.

The bill, when it is finally passed by MSPs, will also ban the display of tobacco in shops, outlaw cigarette vending machines and introduce a registration system for tobacco retailers.

A spokesman for the Scottish Grocers' Federation, (SGF), said: "SGF does not advocate tough penalties against under-18s.

"However, if an under-18 does attempt to buy tobacco there should be consequences. SGF supports the Health and Sport Committee view that there needs to be a balance of responsibility.

Unfair responsibility

"The responsibility of minors with regard to purchasing tobacco must be brought into line with alcohol legislation."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Under the current tobacco laws only the retailer commits an offence when someone under the age of 18 is sold a tobacco product.

"Retailers have expressed concern that all the responsibility for abiding by tobacco retail laws rests on them.

"We have made clear that the Bill should be amended at Stage 2 to outlaw proxy purchase and under age purchase of tobacco products and cigarette papers.

"Doing this will ensure that there is more of a balance between the statutory responsibilities of tobacco retailers and under-age purchasers or people buying on their behalf."

Related BBC sites

*