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September 10th, 2011:

Shop tobacco stands ‘likely to encourage children to smoke’

Published Date: 10 September 2011

By Craig Brown

TOBACCO displays in shops are too attractive and memorable and are likely to encourage youngsters to take up smoking in future, researchers have warned.

A study funded by Cancer Research UK, questioned 950 non-smokers aged 11 to 16 about their attitudes towards tobacco displays and their ability to recall them.

It claimed 27 per cent of the 950 questioned are susceptible to taking up smoking in the future because they failed to express a definite desire never to smoke.

It also found that 81 per cent of the children questioned admitted noticing behind the counter tobacco displays, while nearly one in five paid close attention to them.

And 25 per cent of those questioned thought that the displays were at least “eye-catching”, with one in eight describing them as attractive.

According to the researchers at Stirling University, being attracted to tobacco displays was “positively associated with susceptibility”.

With increasing levels of interest, the study concluded, there was a marked rise in the likelihood that a child would take up smoking in the future.

Anne Marie Mackintosh, lead researcher in the study, said: “Demonstrating that young people who had never smoked appear vulnerable to the colourful and brightly-lit tobacco displays is a real concern and reinforces the importance of putting those displays out of sight.”

The children surveyed also supported putting tobacco out of sight, with more than 70 per cent backing measures to remove the shop displays.

Legislation by the Scottish Government to ban tobacco displays and cigarette vending machines, as well as establishing a Scottish Tobacco Retailer register, has been delayed by legal challenges by the cigarette manufacturer Imperial Tobacco.

However, it is expected to start coming into force in supermarkets early next year and smaller shops in 2015.