Retailers back new smoking law awareness campaign

27 July, 2007

Major publicity to educate industry and consumers about under-18 rule

Retailer support groups have welcomed the start of a publicity campaign to inform young people about plans to raise the smoking age to 18 in England and Wales.

The Department of Health launched a website on July 23, outlining how both retailers and young people will be informed about the

change in the law before it happens on Oct 1.

This month,

the government is sending information about the

legislation to retailers who have high numbers of 16 and 17-year-old customers and also informing schools, colleges and youth organisations.

In August details of the law change, a toolkit and signage will be sent out to more than 100,000 retailers and a dedicated website to target teenagers will go live.

Finally, in September

the government will launch an outdoor poster ad campaign which will be displayed at key locations, including stores where teenagers buy cigarettes.

The Association of Convenience Stores has been putting pressure on the government to communicate the change to the public since it was announced on Jan 1 , to prevent conflict between retailers and 16 and 17-year-olds

trying to buy cigarettes.

Chief executive James Lowman said: "Retailers will be the frontline defence against under-18s buying tobacco and this campaign will help them to do this job. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Department of Health to ensure that customers are aware of the change and

no one is caught by surprise on Oct 1."

The British Retail Consortium will also work with the government to ensure retailers and the public are informed. A spokesman said: "Providing clear information now may help retailers avoid conflict in the future."

Retailers who do sell tobacco to under-18s after Oct 1

face fines of up to £2,500 .

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