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Age restriction rise for tobacco sales

05/06/2007

The legal age at which cigarettes can be bought is to be increased from 16 to 18 in October this year.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison made the announcement while visiting a project at Claypotts Castle Primary School in Dundee which is adopting an innovative approach to smoking prevention.

Ms Robison said:

"Making this country a healthier place is one of the top priorities for the Scottish government, and raising the age of purchase for cigarettes will help us achieve this.

"We need to start with our young people and discourage them from starting to smoke in the first place. Raising the age will send a clear message to young people that smoking is highly dangerous.

"I am pleased by figures out just last week showed a decrease in the number of teenagers smoking, and I am confident that today's announcement, combined with a wider package of measures including stricter enforcement, will contribute to an even greater reduction in the number of young people smoking."

An order was laid today in Parliament to amend the existing law on cigarette sales, allowing the age increase to 18 to come into force from October 1 this year.

Ms Robison added:

"I also recognise that giving up smoking is really difficult to do, especially without any support. Statistics also tell us that almost half of 15-year-old smokers - 49 per cent - want to give up smoking. We will continue to look for the best ways to help them to kick the habit.

"I hope that more health boards will follow its example in encouraging children and young people not to start smoking in the first place. The work going on here at Claypotts Castle Primary School is an excellent example of an innovative approach to smoking prevention."

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 gives Scottish Ministers power to raise the age of purchase for tobacco products.

2.Figures on the number of young people smoking were included in the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyles and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS) 2006.

The decision to raise the age follows a consultation on the recommendations of the report "Towards a Future Without Tobacco" from the Smoking Prevention Working Group, which was chaired by Dr Laurence Gruer, Head of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland. 94 per cent of the written responses, 68 per cent of the responses to Young Scot's on-line survey and a majority of those involved in the young people's focus groups supported raising the age.

The age of purchase will also be raised in England and Wales on October 1