Howls of protest from the Scottish Grocers’ Federation on the passing by the Scottish Parliament of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill will do some very exciting things. Specifically it will soon be a criminal offence:
- for a shop to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18;
- for an adult to buy cigarettes on behalf of anyone under the age of 18; and
- for anyone under the age of 18 to buy (or attempt to buy) cigarettes.
Obviously, all of this applies to cigars, rolling tobacco etc. too.
Given that the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is still 8, that could be some very young children saving up their pocket money to pay fines!
As part of the same drive to cut down on under-age smoking (still a big problem in Scotland – especially among girls), cigarette vending machines will be banned – as will displays of cigarettes in shops. All cigarette sales will in future be ” under the counter”.
Which is where the retailers have a problem. They want to keep their ciggies on display – there was even a petition in my local SPAR (which I did not sign). The small shops worry that it will affect sales.
Given that the legislation is designed to stop people smoking, it is a reasonable expectation that the number of cigarettes sold will diminish. The grocers are quoted as saying “SGF agrees with the Scottish Government that young people should not smoke and should be actively discouraged from doing so.” – so long as it doesn’t affect sales.
But the gloomy outlook may not be necessary – perhaps the money teens save by not buying cigarettes, they will simply spend on other products sold by small retailers like high-energy caffeine drinks; magazines with lots of pictures; and 5p plastic forks from the Chinese take-away.