John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) is calling on the Scottish Government to allow existing measures to reduce youth smoking to develop and take effect before giving further consideration to plans to ban the display of tobacco in shops.
Mr Drummond’s comments follow a survey published today which shows a decrease in the number of teenagers smoking. The survey also reported a fall in the number of 15 year old smokers that had bought tobacco from shops, down from 82% in 2006 to 57% in 2008.
The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) provides headline statistics on the prevalence of smoking, alcohol and drugs misuse among 13 and 15 year olds.
John Drummond said,
“SGF welcome the decline in the number of young people smoking. SGF agrees with the Scottish Government that young people should not smoke and should be actively discouraged from doing so. However, we believe there are better ways of achieving this than banning the display of tobacco in small shops.
“It is clear from the findings of the survey that the health message together with the increase in the legal age limit to purchase tobacco from 16 to 18, which was supported by SGF, has helped to reduce youth smoking levels.
“SGF members recognise the importance of their role in ensuring age restricted products, including tobacco, are sold responsibly. This is why they invest significant resources in staff training and operational procedures including Challenge 25.
“Experience from countries which have implemented a display ban demonstrate the benefits of a ban are not proven. Despite this flimsy evidence the Scottish Government is determined to proceed with a ban which will cost a typical convenience store up to £10,000 just to modify the store.
“SGF is concerned a ban is more likely to demonise and mystify tobacco, increasing its fascination for young people and could encourage smokers, who do not see tobacco on display in legitimate stores, to buy from rogue traders who are prepared to sell illicit products.”
Survey can be found at http://www.isdscotland.org/isd/CCC_FirstPage.jsp