The government will launch a public consultation next month on its plans to tighten legislation on the sale of tobacco - but new research reveals that people, including smokers, are already demanding more action.

A poll carried out for ASH revealed that:

- 76% of GB adults support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children under the age of 18,
- 85% of adults in England and Wales want retailers who are convicted of selling tobacco illegally to children to be banned from selling tobacco products, and
- 88% of adults in Scotland agree that businesses found to have sold or supplied tobacco to under-18s more than once should have their right to sell tobacco suspended.

Results of the research will be presented at a tobacco control conference attended by health professionals in Cardiff today. [1]

Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH said:

"It's what people want; health campaigners need to work hard to keep up with the demand for further reform."

Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK - five times greater than traffic accidents, poisoning, over-dose, alcoholic liver disease, HIV, accidental death, murder and manslaughter combined [2]

The government is considering action on the display of tobacco products in shops, requiring retailers to sell them from under the counter, and a possible ban on cigarette vending machines.

The ASH research shows a majority of people are in favour of these policies but for the following measures more than three out of four want more action:

- Easier access to quitting medications, such as nicotine gum and patches (82%);
- Licences for tobacco vendors, which should be removed if they are caught selling to underage smokers; (87%)
- A crackdown on tobacco smuggling (75%).

Report author Martin Dockrell said:

"The law on smokefree public places has been very popular. Our research shows that almost two out of three (63%) people strongly support it compared to only one in 12 who are strongly opposed. People understand that it is not about smokers: 76% say smokefree legislation has been good for their health and overall people support a wide range of further tobacco control measures."

Notes and Links:

[1] A Call To Action: Successful Tobacco Control for the Future. Conference organised by ASH Wales. Tel 029 2064 1101

[2] Essential Information 02: Smoking Statistics: Illness and Death ASH

Key findings of the survey are available here.

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