A joint campaign between Suffolk’s Trading Standards and Public Health teams to reduce underage smokers has been launched this week.
Started on National No Smoking Day, Wednesday, the Don’t get me Started campaign aims to encourage retailers of tobacco, parents and schools and to play their part in ensuring underage young people cannot access tobacco products.
Smoking is the UK’s biggest killer when it comes to the number of preventable deaths, and yet 8million people still carry on regardless. There is sound evidence for children copying their parents’ smoking habits. Research from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has shown that over 23,000 young people take up smoking every year in England and Wales. Among adult smokers, nearly two-thirds report that they took up smoking before the age of 18 and over 80% before the age of 20.
The Don’t get me Started campaign urges retailers to remember they have a legal duty to make sure that they do not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. If they break the law, they risk receiving a fine. Campaign messaging has also been sent to all high schools in Suffolk.
Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for public protection said: “We’re calling on retailers to join our Don’t get me Started pledge by playing their part in reducing access to tobacco for young people who attempt to buy these products; and on schools and parents to think about whether underage sales is an issue in their area and report concerns.”
To report underage tobacco sales, Suffolk residents are urged to call Suffolk Trading Standards, 9am - 5pm on 08454 040506, or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health and adult care said: “The vast majority of Suffolk newsagents, tobacconists and other retailers are responsible, so this is not intended as a criticism of their sales practices.
“However, Trading Standards do receive a number of reports of underage alcohol sales and a small number for cigarettes and other tobacco products and they will act upon them.
“It is a serious offence to sell tobacco products to an underage person and seriously bad news for young people to get started on a habit that will ruin their long term health.”