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Press Release 29th May 2008 – Under the counter sales of cigarettes

Written by | Last Updated 29 May 2008


The Secretary for Health, Alan Johnson, is set to publish his proposals designed to curb smoking among young people.

The key measures which will be introduced include:

Banning sales of cigarettes over the counter
Banning cigarette vending machines
Banning packets of ten cigarettes

Allen Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking comments as follows:

Allen Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking have asserted for years that you cannot cure addiction to nicotine by giving the addict nicotine (ref nicotine patches/gum/NRT etc).

We have also advised for years that although a ban on smoking in public places was necessary in terms of protecting employees from the effects of passive smoking in the workplace, it would do little to reduce the number of people smoking in the short to medium term. To achieve that, a more successful stop smoking programme is required as an alternative to NRT.

Both assertions appear to have been vindicated by the Department of Health in Ireland announcing that the rate of smoking has increased in the Republic since the smoking ban was introduced 3 years ago.NRT and other pharmaceutical interventions continue to be all that has been offered to smokers who want to quit. It doesn’t appear that the government and medical establishment’s approach to the smoking problem is working…does it?

It is a shame that the smoking ban’s likely reduction in the prevalence of youngsters starting smoking because it is no longer seen as part of a “night out” may be countered by the perceived lure of “smoking zones/areas” outside of bars, pubs, and nightclubs and the ever higher prominence of smoking on the streets (outside offices, shops, airports etc). Furthermore the smoking ban appears to have increased the level of smoking in the home regardless of whether children are present. This all does little to combat the problem of youth smoking.

Everyone knows that many youngsters can find appeal in taboo activities and the “smoking zone lure” combined with cigarette sales being made only “under the counter” might fuel the taboo aspect of smoking further and therefore be counterproductive.

Banning cigarette sales in vending machines, making packs of 10 cigarettes history, and selling cigarettes under the counter might be a good idea in spite of the above, but given many 12-15 year olds seem perfectly capable of EASILY purchasing cannabis, marijuana, cocaine, & heroin from any number of sources Allen Carr’s Easyway do not believe that obtaining cigarettes will prove too much of an obstacle for them. Do you? Presumably Alan Johnson’s department hasn’t considered this.
To call their approach “naive” would be a huge understatement.

Added to this – the government appears to be unable to control the illegal sale of cigarettes to youngsters over the counter – let alone under the counter.

The way to prevent youngsters falling into the nicotine trap is simply through example & education and we don’t just mean that they should be told “smoking kills” or shown photographs of smoker’s lungs. By education we mean that it should be possible to explain to youngsters how addiction to nicotine (or any drug for that matter) occurs. How the addict is lured into thinking that they cannot get addicted and that this forms the main part of the trap. If we can explain to children what is involved in the process of becoming addicted we can avoid youngsters falling for the trap themselves. This is what we have attempted with Smoking Sucks.

By “example” we mean that reducing the number of adults that smoke will automatically make it less likely that their children will start. It is not always the case – but it is accepted that parental smoking is a powerful trigger for youngsters who take up smoking. This brings us back to our original assertion. Smokers need an alternative to the failing smoking cessation programme available to them via the NHS.

The Government, Department of Health, & NHS have consistently refused to meet with Allen Carr’s Easyway. Do their policies to help smokers quit smoking appear to be working to you?