Sunday, 5 June 2011

Scottish government delays tobacco vending machine ban pending legal action

On Thursday, the Scottish Government announced that the vending machine ban, due to be implemented on 1 October, has been delayed, as legal proceedings by Sinclair Collis are ongoing. Sad for Michael Matheson to be making such an announcement in his first tobacco-related press release as Public Health Minister – but he is confident that the Scottish Government's case will be victorious, and such setbacks are to be expected in political life.

I can't see that the Scottish Government has a leg to stand on in trying to persuade the courts that vending machines, the most expensive retail outlet for tobacco, need be banned to ensure that children don't use them to access tobacco. The fact that children obtained them in test purchases does not prove that most children would choose to spend over the odds on getting tobacco out of vending machines regularly.

In any case Sinclair Collis, the Imperial Tobacco vending machine subsidiary, has developed  radio controlled vending machines described here (I can't get the video to work, can anyone else). The idea is that staff activate machines only following age verification, and activation lasts only for a single purchase. No purchase can take place without activation following age verification if needed.

A final stage amendment requesting ministers to consider the use of these machines was voted against in January last year, partly for fear that Scotland would fall behind in the fight against tobacco (start at col 23116). The idea that someone had a technological answer to the bare possibility of children obtaining tobacco from vending machines was regarded as a dangerous distraction from the serious business of denormalising tobacco.

The tobacco display ban, which requires retailers to conceal packs of tobacco on sale rather than display them, has also been delayed by a legal challenge.

1 comment:

Bill Gibson said...

Now that the World Health Organisation has stated that science based evidence must be considered, Radio Controlled Technology is classed as scientific and therefore cannot be ruled out at the whim of biased politicians.