Doctor’s leaders in Wales have condemned the tobacco industry for lobbying to overturn legislation which would ban point of sale displays of tobacco.
They are calling on Welsh MPs to help protect the young by ensuring the legislation goes ahead.
Regulations following the Health Act 2009 will remove displays of tobacco in shops and also prohibit the sale of tobacco from vending machines.
Doctors believe that the regulations are vital and will help put an end to the loopholes that allows tobacco to be advertised to children.
Although the regulations have already been passed, there are attempts supported by the tobacco industry to try and overturn them.
Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of the BMA said: ‘It is crucial that displays at point of sale are prohibited. These displays normalise tobacco use, especially because the packs are placed next to everyday items.
‘Smoking remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the UK. Nearly one in four adults still smoke and many others continue to take up the habit. The vast majority of individuals start smoking before the age of 25.
‘Maintaining strong regulations will help to protect children and prevent them from starting to smoke.’
A study has shown that adolescents become more aware of tobacco brands when cigarettes are on display, and that they are more likely to express an interest in trying named brands.
Schoolchildren shown a cigarettes display at point of sale were more likely to perceive that it would be easy for them to buy cigarettes than those who were shown a till point with no cigarette display.
Dr Lewis warned: ‘To ensure that public health remains a priority it is crucial that these pieces of public health legislation that have already been passed will not be revoked.
‘The government needs to show leadership, to protect the health of today’s children and tomorrow’s adults.’
• Wakefield M, Germain D & Durkin S et al (2006) An experimental study of effects on schoolchildren of exposure to point of-sale cigarette advertising and pack displays. Health Education Research 21: 338-47.