Banning sale of tobacco products near schools would help stop children taking up smoking

Banning sales of tobacco products close to schools and playgrounds would reduce the availability in Scotland by more than 70 per cent in a bid to stop children from smoking.

A ban on the sale of tobacco products near schools could stop children from smoking, a study has found.
A ban on the sale of tobacco products near schools could stop children from smoking, a study has found.

A team from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow examined ways of reducing the number of places where people can buy tobacco products in Scotland.

Researchers created digital maps of all the country’s registered tobacco retailers – of which there are more than 9,000 – and simulated how different policies would alter the number of outlets.

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Preventing tobacco sales within 300 metres of children’s spaces would greatly reduce availability, and could aid efforts to prevent young people taking up smoking, researchers say.,

The team studied the impact of regulating the type of shops allowed to sell tobacco, or where it can be sold.

Researchers also looked at the effects of introducing caps on numbers of retailers in certain areas, with shops selling it more prevalent in poorer areas than wealthier ones..

The findings show that, as well as blocking sales near children's spaces, several measures could lower the number and density of outlets and reduce inequalities in availability.

These include stopping sales in small local shops - where tobacco products are most often bought - or restricting sales to supermarkets only.

However, some measures to reduce tobacco retailers could increase inequalities in availability, researchers found.

For instance, limiting sales to off-licences would increase inequalities in availability because deprived areas tend to have more of these shops than wealthier neighbourhoods.

Earlier work by the team showed that children in Scotland's most economically deprived neighbourhoods spend more time in or near shops selling tobacco than those from less deprived areas.

The team also previously revealed that teenagers are more likely to smoke if they live in neighbourhoods with a large number of tobacco retailers.

The study, which has been published in the journal Tobacco Control, was funded by Cancer Research UK.

Professor Niamh Shortt, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, and Principal Investigator on the project, said: "We need to identify ways to reduce smoking rates, particularly in young people, the most recent data shows us that smoking rates in young people have levelled off and are no longer falling.

"One way to address this is to reduce the number of retailers permitted to sell tobacco.

"We do not need to sell known cancer-causing products alongside everyday products like bread and milk."

Lead author Dr Fiona Caryl, of the University of Glasgow, said: "Measures to reduce tobacco availability should form part of the Scottish Government's efforts to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

"However, it is important to understand which policies would be most effective while ensuring social inequalities aren't being exacerbated."

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