Age-change ad campaign not enough, say worried retailers

23 August, 2007

Government should ensure new law on tobacco sales gets high-profile push

Drinks retailers say they are disappointed the government is not using TV

or other prominent forms of advertising to publicise the law change on buying tobacco.

From Oct 1, the minimum age will rise to 18, sparking fears that off-licence staff could face verbal or physical abuse when refusing 16 and 17-year-olds a sale.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health said it would run a publicity campaign, and has now revealed this will be conducted through outdoor posters - which will be put up a week before Oct 1 - and websites such as MySpace.

Retailers have been sent POS material but many remain concerned, with some

complaining to OLN that the government's campaign is inadequate.

Steve McEntee, manager of the Hop Inn off-licence in Tilehurst, Berkshire, said the government should have put as much emphasis on publicising the new move as it did on advertising the smoking ban.

"If it was broadcast on TV it would definitely make things easier. We have got posters up about it in the shop but, not being disrespectful to the 16 and 17-year-olds, they don't tend to read them," he said.

At Clarkson's Off-licence in Selsey, West Sussex, joint owner Denise Miles criticised the government for taking too long to tell young people about the change.

She said: "I don't know how I'll cope with telling my 16 and 17-year-old customers they can't buy cigarettes in October. I've been warning them and I say 'give up now' because come October you won't be able to smoke."

Matthew Hughes, joint managing director of Bargain Booze, said the ­government was advertising "on the cheap". "This is as contentious as the smoking ban so there should be more above-the-line activity going on," he said.

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