Doctors call for smoking clampdown

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The government must introduce new legislation to protect young people from the dangers of tobacco, a new report from the British Medical Association (BMA) claims.

Breaking the Cycle of Children's Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, published today, calls for a ban on ten-pack cigarettes, the abolition of tobacco vending machines and for the minimum age for buying cigarettes to be raised to 18.

It also demands that government, healthcare professionals and lawmakers act to intensify public information campaigns about the negative health effects of smoking on young children.

Tobacco licensing must be brought into line with regulations governing alcohol licensing while taxation should slowly be increased above inflation to decrease the affordability of cigarettes, the report recommends.

"Young smokers will become tomorrow’s parents who smoke and they will continue the cycle of smoking-related ill-health and premature death in families," the BMA's head of science and ethics, Vivienne Nathanson, said today.

"One of the best ways to prevent children starting to smoke is to help their parents quit. Adequately resourced and targeted smoking cessation services are key to this," she added.

The Observer newspaper yesterday quoted a senior Department of Health spokesperson as responding positively to the report, saying: "We want to maintain the momentum brought about by the ban on smoking in public places in England coming into force on July 1st and initiatives like this we would want to look at."

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