One in seven shops sells cigarettes to underage children - Stunell, 20 June 2007
One in seven shops are selling cigarettes to underage children, research by the Liberal Democrats reveals today.
The Liberal Democrats surveyed all 170 appropriate local authorities in England and Wales asking how many undercover operations by trading standard officers found shops illegally selling tobacco to children aged under 16.
The research comes ahead of the introduction of the smoking ban in England on 1st July.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Andrew Stunell MP said:
“It is shocking that underage children can buy cigarettes so easily.
“Over a third of smokers started before they were 16. The upcoming ban may have some effect at persuading people to quit, but surely it is better to stop people smoking in the first place?
“Much more needs to be done to discourage young people from smoking. Increasing the age at which you can legally buy cigarettes to 18 will only help if it is actually enforced.
“New laws are not enough to stop the problem of teenage smoking - shops and newsagents must take a more responsible attitude.”
Notes to Editors
1. The Liberal Democrats surveyed all 170 local authorities with trading standard responsibilities in England. The attached spreadsheet details the breakdown by local authority: Tobacco sales - survey results of 170 local authorities (Excel, 40KB)
- 77 did at least 1 test in 2006
- 30 did no tests in 2006
- 6 replied with cumulative data over the past 6 years
- 6 replied but with no data for 2006
51 did not reply.
An average of 14.58% of underage volunteers purchased cigarettes - but this masks huge discrepancies from 0 to 100% in different areas.
2. Official statistics show that 38% of smokers started before they were 16, and 43% of men who smoke started before they were 16: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/lib2000/viewerChart523.html