Cigarette display ban comes into force
Displays of tobacco in large shops have been removed from sight across England as part of new legislation.
Since the legislation came into force on April 6, supermarkets and large stores are now covering up tobacco and cigarette products, in order to prevent children from being marketed to via the walls of promotional material.
According to research, cigarette displays in shops encourage smoking and influence the attitude of young people towards tobacco.
More than 100,000 people in the UK die each year because of smoking-related causes and almost two thirds of the country's smokers are thought to have begun their habit before they turned 18.
Smoking causes more than eight out of 10 cases of lung cancer in the UK.
At present, five per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds smoke on a regular basis, according to statistics, while over 300,000 under-16s try cigarettes each year.
Under the new rules, large shops now have to conceal smoking-related products unless staff are re-stocking shelves or serving customers. Smaller, local convenience stores have until 2015 to do the same.
Commenting on the new legislation, health minister Anne Milton said: "We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by colourful, eye-catching, cigarette displays. Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and we need to stop this trend.
"Banning displays of cigarettes and tobacco will help young people resist the pressure to start smoking and help the thousands of adults in England who are currently trying to quit."
Robin Hewings, tobacco control policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "We greatly welcome putting tobacco out of sight in large shops. Making cigarettes less visible to children and young people is key to changing the way they think about cigarettes. There is strong evidence that stacking cigarettes next to crisps and sweets makes tobacco seem like a normal part of everyday life.
"Around 80 per cent of smokers start before they turn 19, so it's vital cigarettes aren't seen as regular, harmless products instead of the deadly and addictive drugs they really are. Preventing young people from starting to smoke is vital and putting tobacco out of sight is a step towards putting them out of mind for the next generation.
"The next step is to remove all branding from cigarette packs. This would mean an end to the glitzy, slickly designed packs that can lure young people into thinking tobacco isn't lethal and would make all tobacco brands look the same. This won't stop everyone from smoking, but it will give millions of children one less reason to start."
Jo Butcher, programme director of health and wellbeing at the National Children's Bureau, said: "National Children's Bureau welcomes the end of tobacco displays.
"Children and young people tell us that outside influences make it even more difficult for them to choose healthier lifestyles. A yet to be released National Children's Bureau health survey has found that more than one in four young people felt they needed more information about the health effects of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
"It's essential that we create a culture that promotes and protects public health, and tobacco legislation is a significant factor in making this happen."
Copyright Press Association 2012