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Campaigners and researchers have urged minister to take a tough stance on the sale of tobacco, dubbing point-of-sale displays the "silent salesman".

Cancer Research UK said banning vending machine sales, checkout displays and introducing plain packaging was vital.

Cancer Research UK said it has renewed its lobbying after research by Stirling University showed how influential such marketing was.

The UK government is considering the measures called for by the charity.

In Scotland a bill is already proposed to ban the display of cigarettes in shops, and their sale in packs of 10.

The Stirling study found nearly half of teenagers were aware of checkout marketing.

Researchers found that the likelihood of a child taking up smoking increased by 35% for every tobacco brand they know..

The Cancer Research UK study, which was based on a review of previous research, also pointed out that removing packs from checkouts could cut brand impressions by over 80%.

Lead researcher Professor Gerard Hastings said point-of-sale displays had become more important since tobacco advertising had been banned, dubbing them the "silent salesman".

"Children are still being exploited and ultimately, they will only be truly protected when tobacco promotion and marketing in all its forms ceases to exist."

Jean King, of Cancer Research UK, said: "We've come a long way - introducing smoke-free laws and making it illegal to sell cigarettes to under 18's - but the job isn't done.

"The evidence is clear and strong support from the public is there - we need to put tobacco out of sight and out of mind to protect all young people."


The government in England is currently consulting on its plans to tighten up tobacco sale laws.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "Protecting children from smoking is a government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this.

"If banning brightly-coloured packets and removing cigarettes from display helps save lives, then that is what we should do - but we want to hear everyone's views first."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is already leading the way on this issue and we have stated our intention to bring forward a Health Bill in the Scottish Parliament this year designed to restrict the display of tobacco products in retail outlets and introduce a tobacco sales registration scheme to encourage more responsible selling.

"With 80% of smokers starting in their teens, we think this will significantly reduce the numbers of young people lighting up."

But smokers lobby group Forest has rejected claims that checkout displays influence purchases. It calls for vending machines to be card operated to stop youngsters buying cigarettes.

Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Assocaition, said the proposals would not work, and could be counter-productive.

He said a ban on the display of products woud serve to blur the distinction between the legal and illegal markets.

Mr Ogden said: "There are other initiatives open to the government that would reduce youth smoking such as reducing youth access to tobacco products through enforcing minimum age laws and tackling illicit trade."




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