Wales politics

Wales ban cigarette machines four months after England

Cigarette vending machine
Image caption Vending machines will be banned in England from Saturday, four months before Wales

The Welsh Government has been criticised after it emerged cigarette vending machines in pubs will not be outlawed until next February.

However, the ban will come into force in England this Saturday, 1 October.

Welsh ministers have just laid regulations in the assembly, which Lib Dems claimed was an "idle approach".

The Welsh Government said it was committed to the ban, but legal challenges in England affected timings in Wales, and made October unrealistic.

The regulations are due to come into force in Wales on 1 February 2012.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants in England which continue to use cigarette vending machines from Saturday will face fines of £2,500.

According to research, 10% of regular smokers aged 11 to 15 get their cigarettes from vending machines, compared with 1% of all smokers.

In November 2009, Welsh heads of trading standards published research where young volunteers made test purchases from vending machines in a number of locations. Eighty-six out of 145 attempted purchases - or 59% - were successful.

The government estimates there are roughly 3,000 cigarette vending machines in Wales.

Liberal Democrat leader and health spokeswoman Kirsty Williams said: "It angers me that as England will be banning the purchase of cigarettes from vending machines next week, the Welsh Government is just now introducing the legislation to do the same in Wales next February.

"Young children are buying tobacco more easily from vending machines and government figures prove this.

"However, given the Welsh Government's idle approach, we in Wales will have to wait four more months before the ban is introduced here.

"The Labour government's inefficiency begs the question: how many Welsh children will start smoking from now till next February?"

The Welsh Government said it "remains committed to introducing regulations to ban tobacco sales from vending machines".

It added: "Legal challenges to the equivalent regulations in England impacted on the timing of the Welsh regulations, making an October 2011 commencement date unrealistic.

"As these legal challenges have now completed, the Welsh Government has laid the Protection from Tobacco (Sales from Vending Machines) (Wales) Regulations 2011, which will be debated in plenary on 18 October 2011, with the aim for the regulations to come into force on 1 February 2012."

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