Banning tobacco displays is not the answer to youth smoking, says Dave Newman

All credit to Imperial Tobacco for mounting a legal challenge to the tobacco display ban in Scotland, resulting in a delay to the implementation date.

Hopefully, this might lead Westminster to rethink its plans and so put an end to the the threat that has been hanging over us all since March 2008.

The proposals to look at the introduction of plain, non-branded packaging for tobacco products also leave me puzzled. Most illicit drugs sush as marijuana, crack and heroin are sold in plain, non-branded packaging, but that seems to do little to curb demand for them.

I am a non-smoker and don't approve of smoking. However, that is purely my choice and in this supposed free society if people want to smoke and risk the associated health hazards, then so be it.

If the tobacco display ban is introduced, then what next? Do we close all betting shops and racecourses to protect the public from becoming compulsive gamblers, or maybe close all McDonald's to save us all from the risk of obesity? Maybe all our cakes and confectionery should be in plain packaging, too.

I am in full support of anything that will help stop our future generations from smoking, but am convinced that a tobacco display ban is not the answer. In my many years of retailing I have never witnessed anything to indicate that my tobacco gantry display is in any way encouraging children to take up smoking. Placing tobacco behind covers or under the counter will only appeal to the natural inquisitiveness of children.

It could be argued that many children who chose to smoke are already passive smokers as a result of their parents' habits. Isn't the answer simply education, not only for our children, but for their parents? Get them to stop and you have a far greater chance of getting their children to stop.

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