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Teenage Smoking Ban - MP predicts confusion and anger

September 24th 2007


North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, is predicting probable confusion and possible anger when the ban on the sales of tobacco products to 16-18 year olds comes into force next Monday (1st October).

"Preventing the underage sales of tobacco products is important" says the MP "but retrospective legislation almost always causes grief.

From next Monday we are faced with the inevitable prospect of retailers who have served regular customers under 18 but over the current legal limit but under eighteen having to tell those young men and women that they are no longer allowed to buy cigarettes.

The association of Convenience Stores tell me that refusing age-restricted sales (of alcohol, for example) is already a major cause of intimidation and violence towards shopkeepers and having to take away a right that some at present enjoy is clearly not going to make them popular.

I do not believe that anything like enough publicity has been given to this change or to the fact that shopkeepers will be implementing Government policy and legislation.

There's a very real danger that some young people will blame shopkeepers for a ban that they are simply required to enforce by law and there will, I think, be an inevitable increase in the number of young addicted smokers trying to persuade older teenagers and adults to buy cigarettes for them.  This change is going to need a huge amount of community support and understanding if it is to work smoothly".

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