Raising the legal age for buying tobacco
PROPOSALS to crack down on smoking amongst teenagers were
unveiled by public health minister Caroline Flint. Plans
include increasing the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco and
imposing tougher sanctions on retailers who persist in selling
cigarettes to under-age teens.
About 9% of children aged between 11 and 15 smoke and the Government
is determined to reduce this figure further. Raising the legal age
to 17 or 18 would make it easier for retailers to spot under-age
smokers and lead to a fall in the number of teenagers who get
addicted to nicotine and continue to smoke into adulthood.
It is hoped that bringing the legal age for the purchase of tobacco
into line with that of alcohol would reinforce the dangers of
smoking to young people as well as helping retailers to comply with
the law. It would also bring England and Wales into line with
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US.
Evidence shows that nearly 70% of 11 to 15 year old smokers say they
buy their cigarettes from small shops such as newsagents and corner
shops. This suggests that existing sanctions for retailers who break
the law such as advisory visits or written warnings are not
stringent enough to act as a deterrent to rogue retailers.
Proposals to toughen up these sanctions include prohibition orders
banning repeat offenders from selling tobacco. This would be a major
new penalty, particularly for shops who rely on tobacco sales for
much of their turnover.
Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said:- "Smoking is
dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely
they are to become life-long smokers and to die early. Someone
who starts smoking aged 15 is 3 times more likely to die of cancer
due to smoking than someone who starts in their late 20s.
Access to cigarettes by under 16s is not as difficult as it should
be and this is partly due to retailers selling tobacco to those
under the legal age. If a particular shop is known locally as the
place for children and teenagers to easily buy tobacco, we want to
stop that shop selling it. These proposals demonstrate our
determination to reduce the number of teenagers from smoking thereby
reducing the number of people with preventable diseases and the
incidence of health inequalities."
The Government is inviting views from the public, the retail
industry, local authorities and stakeholders on these proposals, set
out in a consultation paper published this week.
Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute
said:- "The Trading Standards Institute strongly supports the
proposal to change the age limit on sales of tobacco. The Institute
has previously called for such action based upon the growing
concerns about the health risks of smoking among children and
teenagers. The Institute also believe that changing the age of
sale in line with the age limit on, for example, alcohol sales will
help eliminate confusion among retailers. Across the
Country,Trading Standards colleagues already do an enormous amount
of work to help educate and inform retailers of their
responsibilities to comply with the law across the whole range of
age-restricted products. However, in 2004-5, some 117 retailers were
still successfully prosecuted for selling cigarettes to children
under 16, receiving penalties ranging from a conditional discharge
to fines of up to £1,000.
The Trading Standards Institute therefore believe that changing the
age of sale for tobacco , combined with the proposal for stronger
penalties against the minority of shopkeepers who repeatedly make
illegal underage sales, would make it significantly more difficult
for young people to purchase cigarettes."
Oldest and youngest
awarded Freedom of city
ONE of Liverpool's oldest, and the youngest services are to
be granted the city's top honour. The Merseyside branch of St.
John Ambulance, founded in September 1877, and the Duke of
Lancaster's Regiment which was formed just days ago on Saturday 1
July 2006, will be honoured by Liverpool City Council at an
Extraordinary meeting on Wednesday 12 July 2006.
Following a vote by councillors, the 2 organisations will be
officially added to the Freedom Roll of Associations and
Institutions of the City of Liverpool.
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Joan Lang, said:- "These
are 2 extremely valued and well-respected services and I'm delighted
that they are receiving this top honour. It's wonderful that
we can recognise the work carried out by the Merseyside branch of
St. John Ambulance. They play an integral role in our community -
whether it's providing first aid and medical support, or training
young people to develop key skills that will benefit them, and
others. Just last Saturday soldiers from the new Duke of
Lancaster's Regiment came to the Town Hall to officially report for
duty, so it's nice to see a young organisation receive this
Council leader Warren Bradley said:- "All my colleagues and I
at the City Council are delighted to add both groups to the
prestigious list of Liverpool organisations, and individuals, which
are leaders in their field. I am immensely proud of the
services they give to Merseyside, and indeed this country, and it is
fitting that they are added to the Freedom Roll, which is the
highest honour the city can bestow on an association or
The Duke of Lancaster's regiment has been formed by amalgamating the
King's Own Royal Border Regiment, The King's Regiment and The
Queen's Lancashire Regiment.
The King's Regiment was admitted to the Freedom roll on 7 March
1962. This allowed them to "march through the city with drums
beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed."
Brigadier Hamish Rollo, Colonel of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment,
speaking from Germany where he is visiting the 1st Battalion of the
Regiment, said:- "This would be a most generous and important
gesture by Liverpool City Council. To be awarded the freedom of a
great City is highly significant to a Regiment. There is no
better way of confirming the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment as
Liverpool's own Regiment, building on the proud heritage of one of
its predecessors, the King's Regiment. It follows Liverpool's fine
tradition of outstanding support to the Armed Forces. All
Kingsmen of our four battalions would be delighted with a vote to
award the Freedom."
Colonel Martin Amlot is St. John Ambulance's Commissioner of
Operations in Merseyside. He said:- "The adult volunteers, the
cadets and the Badgers (youngsters between 5-10 years of age),
serving and retired members of St John Ambulance in Merseyside will
all be thrilled to know that the City of Liverpool has seen fit to
honour us in this way. We enjoy our service to the community
as First Aiders, as ambulance crews and as a significant youth
organisation in Merseyside. Each activity has its own rewards, but
to be recognised by the city like this is an unexpected and absolute
pleasure. We thank the city council most warmly and we hope that we
can live up to the honour."