Tobacco display ban comes into force in Scotland

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scottish legislation banning the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products in larger retailers comes into force today.

The move will help prevent young people from starting to smoke, according to Public Health Minister Michael Matheson.

The ban was passed into law in 2010 and will also see the sale of cigarettes from vending machines prohibited from today.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already brought in similar bans to prevent large stores from displaying cigarettes and tobacco.

Stores that do not comply could be convicted of a criminal offence or receive a fixed penalty fine from trading standards officers.

"These bans are the right step to prevent young people in Scotland from taking up smoking," Mr Matheson said.

"It is well known that smoking is associated with a range of illnesses and is the primary preventable cause of ill health and premature death. Each year, tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions in Scotland.

"That is why it is so important that this government works to improve health by reducing the number of people who choose to smoke and evidence shows that young people exposed to the promotion of tobacco are more likely to try smoking."

Last December a legal challenge by one of the world's biggest tobacco firms was defeated.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal against any ban by Imperial Tobacco, which argued that the legislative provisions dealing with display bans fell outside the scope of the Scottish Government and were matters reserved for the UK Parliament in London.

The ban affects large shops, which are defined as those with a relevant floor area exceeding 280 square metres and will also come into force for smaller retailers on April 6, 2015.

Vicky Crichton, senior public affairs manager for Cancer Research UK, congratulated the Scottish government on putting the protection of children before tobacco industry interests and said putting tobacco out of sight behind shop counters was "a victory for common sense and for the health of future generations of young people."

She added: "There is strong evidence that stacking cigarettes next to crisps and sweets makes tobacco seem like a normal part of everyday life. We also know that the majority of smokers start before they turn 19. Putting tobacco out of sight is a step towards putting them out of mind.

"Smoking is a serious problem in Scotland with lung cancer claiming 4100 lives each year. Up to eight out of 10 cases are caused by smoking.

"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."

Copyright Press Association 2013