Tobacco crackdown to ensure 'we no longer see smoking as a part of life', says Lansley
New legislation comes into force today aimed at cutting down the number of people who smoke.
The new law will prevent large shops and supermarkets displaying tobacco products to the public.
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, told the BBC today that the new law was an attempt to reduce the number of young people who smoke, by lowering the visibility of the products.
He also said the move was aimed at supporting smokers who want to give up, and ensure "we no longer see smoking as a part of life".
"There's more than a third of smokers who say they want to stop. Each year we have nearly 800,000 smokers who try to quit, 50 per cent succeed.
"We want to continue to increase that proportion, help more people to stop" he said.
According to Department Of Health statistics more than 300,000 children under 16 try smoking each year and five per cent of children aged 11 to 15 are regular smokers.
The Department of Health said today that the new legislation was aimed at reducing the numbers of young people who smoke, based on evidence that cigarette displays in shops can encourage young people to take up the habit.
Under the new legislation cigarettes and other tobacco products will have to be kept below the counter in large shops and supermarkets.
Those found not complying with the law could be fined up to £5,000 or face imprisonment.
Small outlets will, however, be exempt from the changes until 2015.
It is estimated that around a fifth of adults smoke and 39 per cent say that they were smoking regularly before the age of 16.
Health Minister Anne Milton said: "We cannot ignore the fact that young people are recruited into smoking by colourful, eye-catching, cigarette displays.
"Most adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and we need to stop this trend.
"Banning displays of cigarettes and tobacco will help young people resist the pressure to start smoking and help the thousands of adults in England who are currently trying to quit."
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