Retailers and lobby groups are urging the government to back the change in the legal age to purchase tobacco with a high- profile public awareness campaign.

There are fears that if the age rise - from 16 to 18 from October 1 in England - is not well publicised, c-store retailers could face a backlash from disgruntled teenagers, who will find themselves unable to buy tobacco overnight when the new law comes in.
Increasing the age for buying tobacco will follow closely on the heels of the ban on smoking in public places from July 1 in England and April 2 in Wales. Scottish ministers have already backed the age change north of the border.
The rise looks set to be the first in a wave of new laws attempting to cut the number of smokers in the UK. Other plans include introducing off-putting images on packs and the scrapping of 10-packs.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: "As a result of this change many customers who were previously able to buy tobacco will now be unable to overnight and it's retailers who will be on the front line of enforcing the new age."
Government relations manager Shane Brennan added: "The ACS is going to push hard on this. The government needs to communicate clearly what is happening, be planning ahead and putting serious funding behind a high-profile campaign."
The Rural Shops Alliance echoed the calls. Independent rural retailer and chairman of its public affairs group Adrian Boorman added: "Government must not shirk its obligation in this matter."

Retailers' reaction

Tej Daffu, Budgens, Tooting, South London: "I think what might happen is that there will be even more teenagers hanging around outside stores hassling adults to buy cigarettes for them and causing a nuisance. However, I'm generally in favour of the change. I think it's good that all age-restricted products we sell will be brought under one age and one ID."

Nigel Dowdney, Stalham Shopper, Norwich: "I agree with the change in age and think it should make life easier with one age across the board. My concern is that there will be a backlash from teenagers of certain ages who will be caught in the middle. To avoid this the government needs to make sure there is a major publicity drive."

Rami Gill, Premier Store, Little Heath, Coventry: "The change in the law might cause a bit of trouble as some of the teenagers may not understand what's going on and we might have to bear the brunt of some of their frustrations. It's up to the government to get the message across so that we don't have to deal with a load of extra trouble."

David Patient, Nearbuys Convenience Store, Canvey Island, Essex: "We have a Challenge 21 policy already so the situation won't be very different for us. However, problems will come from those for whom the situation will change overnight. Clear signage and prior notice of the change will be essential."

Lesley Brown, Frankmarsh Stores, Barnstaple, Devon: "I don't think it's going to be easy, but we've already started to tell those teenagers that it's going to affect about it now, so that they know about the change. There needs to be a great deal of promotion from the government. I truly hope that it plans for it properly so everyone knows what's going on."