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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Out of Sight: Out of Mind

Yesterday saw a historic victory in preventing children and young people from taking up the deadly habit of smoking as Members of Parliament voted to end the display of tobacco at the point of sale AND to ban the sale of tobacco in vending machines.

With most smokers becoming addicted before their mid-20s, it is essential that we try to prevent young people from taking up smoking in the first place. Making tobacco an ‘out of sight’ product is a huge step forward in protecting young people from a lifetime of smoking and will reinforce the increasing unacceptability of smoking.

The Health Bill 2009 will enable the Assembly Government to implement these measures and - as a Member of the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance - BMA Cymru is joining calls for this to be done as soon as possible. The Bill represents a brave move against a powerful international tobacco lobby which employs multimillion pound marketing tools aimed at recruiting new young smokers.

In July 2008, the BMA produced a report, Forever Cool: The effect of smoking imagery on young people. This report examined trends in smoking prevalence and initiation and it reviewed the different forms of pro-smoking imagery and the evidence for how they can affect behaviours and attitudes among young people.

The fact that the Health Bill was amended to include a ban on tobacco vending machines without the need for a vote shows the strength of feeling in the importance cutting off the supply of cigarettes to our young people, de-normalising the deadly habit and preventing the onset of smoking.

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