Scottish cigarette display and vending machine ban begins on 29 April

From the 29 April this year, large shops will be banned from openly displaying cigarettes and smokers will no longer be able to purchase cigarettes from self-service vending machines as this will be outlawed too, the Scottish Government confirmed yesterday.

Smaller retailers however appear  to have a few years left before the new rules affect them as they will be given until 6 April, 2015 to fully abide by rules as laid out in the ‘Tobacco & Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010’.

The legislation, which was approved in Scottish Parliament on 27th January 2010 by a massive majority, includes key points that are clearly crafted at making it difficult for under-18s to obtain tobacco and lessen the appeal of smoking. It has also been designed to prevent people lighting-up at an early age and later developing a possible whole range of health conditions that are connected to smoking such as: cancer, heart disease, stroke, asthma, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and many more.

According to Scottish Governmental statistics, smoking kills approximately 13,500 Scots each year (equivalent to one in five of all deaths), it is the cause of around 33,500 hospital admissions and results in the NHS Scotland spending around £400 million each year to treat smoking-related health conditions.

The Tobacco & Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010:

. Bans the display of tobacco and smoking related products in shops.

. Bans the sale of tobacco from vending machines.

. Introduces a tobacco sales registration scheme, which will be free for retailers to join.

. Makes it an offence for under-18s to purchase tobacco.

. Makes it an offence for adults to buy tobacco for under 18s (proxy purchase).

. Gives trading standards officers powers to issue fixed penalty notices.

. Gives courts the power to ban retailers from selling tobacco where they have continually broken the law.

. The Act also amends the eligibility criteria for persons wishing to run a GP practice.

Only last December a legal challenge was launched by one of the world’s largest tobacco firms. The Supreme Court eventually dismissed the appeal by Imperial Tobacco, who claimed that the prohibiting of cigarette displays was strictly relevant to Westminster, and thus not within the scope of the Scottish Government. A committee of five judges unanimously ruled against Imperial, stating its arguments were not well-founded.

Michael Matheson, the Public Health Minister for the Scottish Government, said: “We know that reducing the number of people that smoke will have wide benefits for Scotland’s health and evidence shows that these bans will help prevent young people from taking up smoking. That is why we believe this is the right approach for Scotland and I am delighted that we are now in a position to implement these bans, which is a key step in maintaining Scotland’s position as a world leader on tobacco control. We have worked closely with retailers to set this date. We appreciate that smaller retailers need extra time to make the necessary changes and so we have decided that April 2015 represents a fair timescale for implementing the display ban for them.”

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