ACS call for tougher laws

A leading retail trade organisation says a

law to ban proxy purchases of tobacco for under-18s should be "top of the list" of new measures on tobacco control.

The Association of Convenience Stores said cigarettes bought by adults are "the single most likely way in which under-age people get hold of tobacco".

Chief executive James Lowman said: "A retailer who makes a mistake and sells tobacco to an under-age person faces severe sanctions. The adult that knowingly facilitates children smoking faces no sanction. That is a crazy situation."

The ACS has already come out against a proposed ban on tobacco displays in stores. Lowman added: "We want to see the government take action against the street vendors and black marketers who make millions of pounds every week.

" This crime is not tackled effectively enough and we need tougher penalties and a proper enforcement budget."

Imperial Tobacco has labelled product display restrictions "unnecessary and ill-conceived"

and says it will be making a formal submission to the consultation.

Peter Richards, general manager of Imperial Tobacco in the UK & Ireland, said: "Imperial Tobacco is not aware of any credible evidence that consumption has declined as a result of such legislation.

"Stricter enforcement of the current age laws coupled with more resources for Trading Standards to tackle illegal selling is the answer. This should be the key priority ."