Behind the counter proposal for Cigarettes

Shopkeepers could be banned from displaying Cigarettes under Government plans.

Shopkeepers could be banned from displaying Cigarettes under Government plans. The Department of Health said it was launching a consultation to look at ways to stop children smoking. In a bid to cut the number of smokers and prevent children taking up the habit, ministers have drawn up proposals including a bar on displaying tobacco products and the removal of pub vending machines. Measures making it easier to sell nicotine replacement gums and patches are also on the table. The proposals follow on the July introduction of the ban on smoking in public places. According to the Department of Health, the strategy - coupled with wider smokefree legislation - will save hundReds of lives. Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times More likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their late twenties, the department said. Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Children who smoke are putting their lives at risk and are More likely to die of cancer than people who start smoking later. It's vital we get across the message to children smoking is bad. If that means stripping out vending machines or removing Cigarettes from behind the counter, I'm willing to do that." According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the proportion of adults who smoke has dropped by two per cent from 24 to 22 per cent. About 165,000 smokers quit between April and September - an increase of 28 per cent compaRed with the same period the previous year. The Government has set a target of Reducing the proportion of smokers in England to 21 per cent by 2010. In this year's Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling increased the duty on tobacco, adding 11p to the price of a packet of 20 Cigarettes and 4p to five cigars. He said the Government was continuing the five per cent Reduced rate of VAT on smoking cessation products beyond June 30. Mark Littlewood, communications director of liberal think tank Progressive Vision, said: "Cigarettes are a product for adults and steps need to be taken to prevent youngsters buying them. But banning the display of Cigarettes would be petty, pointless and patronising."

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