Cigarette machines could be a thing of the past

By Kaye Nicolson

Photo courtesy of British Heart Foundation.
Photo courtesy of British Heart Foundation.

A campaign to ban all cigarette vending machines from pubs and clubs has been accepted by the Scottish and UK governments, who are now taking the first steps towards amending tobacco laws.

While the UK Government‘s amended Health Bill will cover England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the cigarette machine ban is a devolved issue in Scotland, meaning that the Scottish Government‘s Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill will be debated in full parliament in November. The British Heart Foundation has been raising awareness of the heart problems to which smoking contributes, and has placed particular emphasis on the impact this could have to Scotland’s teenage smokers.

In Scotland, The British Heart Foundation’s campaign heightened when a survey showed that 13% of Scotland’s 13 year-old smokers and 10% of 15 year-olds obtained cigarettes from vending machines. The research also showed that the number of under-age smokers buying tobacco from the machines has risen since 2006. Peter Hollins, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, hailed the Scottish parliaments’ move to ban tobacco vending machines in their Tobacco Bill. He commented that “consigning vending machines to the scrapheap will cut off an easy supply of cigarettes to children”. Community Convener Christine Grahame MSP reiterated this, adding that “the majority of our (health) committee believe that cigarettes at the point of sale represent an advertisement and a ban on these displays would have a particularly positive effect in deterring teenagers.”

The ban came one step closer in September, when the Stage 1 report from the Health and Sports Committee was published.  Further reports are expected to emerge in the next few months.