Retailers are calling on the government to rethink proposals to ban the display of tobacco, after a sharp decrease in the number of Scottish 13 and 15 year-olds who claim to buy cigarettes in shops.

The survey of more than 10,000 pupils by NHS National Services Scotland reported a huge fall in the number of 15 year-old smokers who said they sourced their tobacco from shops, down from 82% in 2006  to 57% in 2008. A further 16% cited vans, such as ice cream and burger vans,  and 10% vending machines, as their primary sources of supply.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) believes that a ban would “increase the fascination” of tobacco to young people at a time when existing measures were proving to be working.

The government should allow these existing measures to develop and take effect before giving further consideration to plans to ban the display of tobacco in shops, it said.

“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,” chief executive John Drummond added.

The survey also discovered an increase in the number of 15 year old pupils who said they had never smoked, from 47% in 2006 to 51% in 2008.

Meanwhile, 41% of pupils who admitted to smoking at least one cigarette a week said they would like to give up.

Related Story:
60% of stores see adults buy for children