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Ban on sale of cigarettes from vending machines in Wales – one week to go
Although tobacco vending machines account for only one per cent of the UK market in tobacco sales, a disproportionate number of young people under 18 purchase cigarettes from vending machines. Ten per cent of regular smokers aged 11 to 15 report that cigarette vending machines are their usual source of tobacco.
From Wednesday 1 February 2012, it will be illegal to sell cigarettes (or any other tobacco product) from a vending machine to anyone, regardless of their age. In addition, while the machines themselves can remain on site, all tobacco advertisements on the vending machines need to be removed or covered up so that they are no longer visible.
Advice has been issued to businesses affected to ensure they are aware of what is required of them and the penalties they could face if they do not comply.
Welcoming the ban, Steve Whitehouse, Chair of Wales Heads of Trading Standards said:
“Across Wales, we have seen more than half (59%) of trading standards test purchases with young volunteers result in underage sales from vending machines. Banning sales of tobacco from vending machines is a step in the right direction to reducing smoking addiction in childhood and improving the public health of our communities. Trading Standards in Wales will be working closely with businesses to help them comply with this new legislation.”
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
“Vending machines are an easy way for under 18s to buy cigarettes, especially where the machines are unsupervised.
“Making cigarettes less accessible is one way of discouraging children from taking up smoking in the first place. It will also support the efforts of the many adults in Wales who try to quit smoking each year.”
Local Trading Standards Officers will be enforcing the ban in Wales. If a business is found to be selling cigarettes to the public directly from a vending machine, it could be fined up to £2,500.
If any vending machine still displays tobacco advertising, the business could be fined up to £5,000 and the owner could face up to two years in prison.