The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged the government to crack down on tobacco proxy purchasing as part of a balanced approach to reducing youth smoking.

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan called on the government to follow Scotland's lead in introducing punishments for buying tobacco for minors.

The Scottish Bill for proxy purchasing of tobacco is in its final stages, with a vote expected early 2010. It aims to make tobacco proxy purchasing a criminal offence, similar to alcohol proxy purchasing laws.

"We need a tobacco policy that presses all the levers involved in young people taking up smoking," said Brennan. "A ban on proxy purchasing would deter adults who introduce smoking to young people."

The ACS also called for focus on the illicit tobacco trade. "We need a proper budget to tackle this," Brennan added. "Research shows this is the main route of supply for the most disadvantaged communities."

Trading Standards recently revealed that 30% of under-18s in disadvantaged areas have bought illicit tobacco from private homes.