LANCASHIRE County Council is reminding businesses that the national ban on selling cigarettes from vending machines comes into effect tomorrow.
From then on, it will be illegal to sell tobacco products from vending machines. These are most often found in pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants. It will also be against the law to display advertisements or pictures of tobacco products on vending machines.
The legislation does not ban vending machines themselves. Vending machines can remain in their current location providing that they are no longer used to sell tobacco products and all advertisements for tobacco products are removed or covered up completely.
Responsibility for complying with the legislation lies with the person who controls or is concerned with the management of the premises where the vending machine is located.
If any tobacco products are sold, the owner or manager could face a fine of up to £2,500.
The legislation is being brought in by the Department of Health (DH). DH is targeting 64,000 businesses nationally who may be affected by the change by mailing out guidance to help them comply with the new rules.
Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team is responsible for ensuring Lancashire businesses follow the law.
Paul Noone, Head of Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards service, said: “Trading Standards officers welcome the new legislation because it clarifies the law. In the past, the sale of tobacco products via vending machines has not been sufficiently managed or controlled by business. “Previous legislation was also unclear about who was respons! ible if an underage sale took place.
“Vending machines are usually cited in locations where their use cannot be controlled and, more generally, people aren’t always aware of who is accessing the machine.
“In Lancashire, we pursued test cases against two national vending machine suppliers following failed test purchases using child volunteers, with the aim of making the law clearer. However, this new legislation means we don’t need to proceed with these cases.
“Although only approximately one per cent of cigarettes are sold from vending machines, it is estimated that 17 per cent of under-age smokers use vending machines to buy cigarettes.”
County Coun.Albert Atkinson, Cabinet member with responsibility for Lancashire’s Trading Standards service, said: “The new legislation aims to reduce smoking among young people and stop them taking up the habit.
“Figures show that in the UK, 450 children per day start to smoke and these children are three times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their mid-20s.
“Lancashire’s Trading Standards team helped to support this legislation by conducting test purchasing operations at premises with vending machines.
“Nationally the results of those tests are truly shocking, revealing a 41% sales rate from vending machines in the past. This legislation is one of a number of proposed measures to reduce smoking among young people.”