Saturday, October 20, 2007

Raising the cigarette buying age to 18

Over the last couple of weeks I have become aware of leaflets by shop tills explaining that cigarettes can now only be sold to those who have reached 18.

I didnt notice a big campaign about this, I missed any publicity, but I welcome it.

I had my first cigarette when I was 11. I didnt become a big smoker that early, but I had my first go at it.

I am positive that removing the possibility of buying cigarettes from people who dont look 18 will considerably reduce the incidence of smoking. You might be able to look 16 when you are only 14, but you are unlikely to look 18 at that age. Most long-term smokers will tell you that they started as children. Most adults have much more sense than to start smoking (even if we struggle to stop).

Well done Labour for taking such a positive stance.


observer said...

Can you do something about the " minors" who occupy bookmakers shops as well- if it gets any worse we'll have to have Janet and John books alongside the Racing post.

Seriously - the number of kids in there is incredible- hidden problem the bookies do little about

Anonymous said...

I fear that the raising of the smoking age will do nothing to tackle the amount of kids smoking. If they were illegal when it was 16 then they will still be now it's 18.

Louise Baldock said...

It does make it harder for them to buy them in shops though.

What would you suggest? Should we perhaps make them illegal? Stop importing them or making them in this country? That would help a lot of law-abiding people to give them up.

Anonymous said...

Here goes - a long and winding one in response. (Though I've tried to be brief!)

As a smoker myself I have always thought that the "Smoke and you will die" messages do very little to put anyone off. (Do you?) I know how bad they are but still I continue. So, firstly, let's stop treating the irrational with rational arguments. (Though that's not to say we tackle it with irrational arguments either!). People will smoke regardless and the best thing is early, intensive, personal intervention to help them give up if they have started.

As for kids - I see little research being done and acted upon as to why kids smoke in the UK. The majority of people rely on uninformed guesswork. Anecdotal evidence seems the best many work from. Even when they do come up with something plausible there is little depth of understanding (I am saying this as someone who has discussed it at some length with a PCT and Public Health Director).

Research in the USA points to peer pressure but it is the detail that reveals most. There appears to be a critical point - where two or more friends are smoking. That's where th3e message needs to be targeted.
Marketing companies have picked up on this peer pressure approach with startling results (check out 'stealth marketing' and the "Who is the coolest kid you know?" question). I see no reason why the health profession should not or could not do the same. I am sure the effect would be bigger than restricting the age for purchasing.

Anonymous said...

I should have pointed out that there is still an ethical debate over "stealth marketing" - just that in the context of what we are talking about (conbatting teem smoking with health professionals and the like), I think those ethical dilemmas would not be as evident.

Louise Baldock said...

Tell me about the betting shops where kids can be found.

I am happy to report them to the appropriate people. Send me an email if you dont want to say where they are in here.

We shouldn't be bringing our children up to fill in betting slips when they should be doing their home-work. Never mind the discomfort that adult gamblers feel to have them there.

Louise Baldock said...

I agree with you Anon that we dont know enough about why kids start smoking

I know why I did though.

I thought it would make me seem more attractive to the other kids, more grown-up, more sophisticated. I also wanted to feel more grown-up myself. I wanted to do an adult thing so that I could feel more adult. I wanted to be cool.

It is the worst kind of crap, but that is what I thought.

I agree that the best way to stop kids smoking is to suggest that being cool is about not smoking, that not smoking is the adult thing. That smoking makes you smell bad, that the boy you fancy wont ask you out if you smoke etc

How are we going to do that so that the message is delivered by credible cool people and not by distinctly uncool people like your mum or teacher or doctor?

Old Dick almost recouperated and fully functinoning said...

I just thought the "bookies" were running a creche.....but it seems they are underage gamblers, I think maybe Central or Edge Hill should introduce a gaming room, poker and rouletter tables, the kid's would love it and think if the money the clubs could raise for other more mundane activities like health education adn days out to Camelot