Islington people’s panel: Cigarette displays banned from shops

Cigarette packets were banned from display in large shops in a bid to discourage young people from taking up smoking.

The government’s latest anti smoking initiative, which came into force on Friday, applies to shops over 280 square metres. Newsagents are exempt from the rules until 2015.

The change in legislation comes as the Gazette, along with the other newspapers in its publishing group, Archant London, continues to work in partnership with the Deborah Hutton Campaign to help stop young people smoking.

In Islington, 5.9 per cent of girls aged 11-15 smoke and four per cent of boys, figures from NHS North Central London reveal. A total of 25 per cent of adults smoke in the borough overall – the second highest rate amongst adults in London.

In Britain overall, one in five adults in Britain now smoke, with two thirds starting before they were 18 years old.

The government believes colourful cigarette packages are a big draw for teenagers. Health Secretary, Andrew Landsley, said he wants to “arrive at a place where young people just don’t think about smoking and they don’t see tobacco and they don’t see cigarettes.”

However, critics have argued there is no evidence to prove display bans are justified.

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Thomas Clarke hit the streets to find out if it really is a case of out of sight and out of mind for Islington residents.

Gabby Endacott, 21, a student, of Essex Road: “I smoke and I know the packaging does make a big difference. I have two younger siblings who smoke and I think they were attracted to the glamour of it so I think it is a good idea.”

Alex Hobbs, 19, a student, of Colebrook Row: “It will stop younger people from buying cigarettes because they will be less informed. It makes it a bit more difficult to start smoking if they don’t know what they are buying.”

James Pritchard, 59, unemployed, of Caledonian Road: “It won’t make a difference and I blame the parents. These days parents give their kids �20 and say ‘go have a good time’. Youngsters don’t know the value of money and throw it away on booze and cigarettes.”

Maggie Duff, 55, an Overground train maintenance worker from Finsbury Park: “The issue is far deeper than just branding. I am always being asked if I have a spare one so the kids can get it other ways than in the shops. It’s a generational thing as well, the children see their parents and grandparents smoke, so of course they do.”

Antony Jago, 26, a fundraiser in Upper Street: “This is another example of the ‘nanny state’ going too far. We shouldn’t be restricted from what we can and can’t do.”

Emma Martin, 53, a shop keeper, of Welbeck Street: “I think it will discourage children. If they see something they will want it so putting it out of sight will remove the temptation. But for me it all starts at school. The government should scrap this legislation and implement a very intensive anti-smoking school campaign.”

Paul Newman, 47, press officer, Upper Street: “It won’t help. People don’t smoke simply because they can see cigarettes. I think the government are hypocritical. If they think it is so bad why don’t they make them illegal? It’s all about money to them.”

Zaynab Lamb, 21, a student of Essex Road: “It might stop the impulse buying that kids do when they see something and want it. But in general I don’t think smoking is a big enough taboo in the UK to put children off.”

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