Could All Cigarette Vending Machines Be Banned?
The growing fear of children using cigarette machines could be addressed this year as talks are in place to ban the vending machines altogether. In the UK alone approx 50,000 children are thought to be using the machines to obtain the cigarettes. The ban has been petitioned by The British Heart Foundation to bring in the new legislation. The proposed ban may be received well especially after the recent ban of smoking in public places. Although there is no evidence that the ban would reduce the amount of child smokers.
Two thirds of smokers started before they were eighteen and increase their risk of getting cancer. Therefore taking away temptation to children by banning packs of 10, putting them under the counter and banning posters in shops promoting the products are all one step closer to a smoke free society.
The Smoking Ban
In the UK, Smoking was banned in public on July 1 2007. Ireland was the first country to initiate a ban on smoking in the workplace and all public places in 2004, resulting in pub and club go-ers to smoke in corners or out on the street in specially constructed smoking shelters. But the supply is still there in the form of the vending machine. With around 96,000 machines in the UK’s hospitality establishments, one in five children can buy cigarettes easily and invisibly. These machines stock mostly packs of 10 making it cheap and easy at around £3. France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and 14 states of America have already banned selling packs of 10.
Breaking The Smoking Cycle
If children are prevented from buying cigarettes will they still obtain them? Many will get them from older teenagers and even family. The cycle of smoking continues. The government also wants to ban all posters and change the packaging to a plain packet to show it isn’t ‘cool’ to have a certain brand.
In Vienna, you can’t get your metro ticket or go to the toilet easily, unless you have the right coin for the machine, but you can buy cigarettes easily on the street.
How Can We Discourage Children Smoking?
Using credit card operated machines so children cannot use them was one idea or does this encourage another crime? Will the smoking level actually go up because it is unobtainable and will children resort to ‘binge’ smoking or going to ‘dealers’.
Newsagents aren’t happy, as they fear it will restrict their trade. How will the confused customers know what they have in stock and how will they feel knowing their product is hidden away under the counter when pornographic magazines still sit out on the shelves.
Surely reducing smoking practice as much as possible is a step in the right direction no matter how small or insignificant. The measures in place won’t reduce child smoking overnight but could have an effect. This will have more of an effect than we suppose, the public smoking ban was met by resilience for a few weeks then accepted well as pubs, clubs and restaurants adapted to the law. So removing the machines is easier as the hardest part is already done. While the businesses are affected, once a ban is in place there is no going back.