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The Health Bill becomes law – tobacco is now out of sight!

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

13 November 2009

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The Health Bill is now the Health Act

The Health Bill has become the Health Act

After almost a year and a half of campaigning, measures to help protect children from tobacco marketing were yesterday enshrined into law.

The Health Bill 2009, which bans the display of tobacco at the point of sale and prohibits tobacco vending machines received Royal Assent yesterday evening and became the Health Act 2009.

Since August last year, Cancer Research UK’s Out of Sight, Out of Mind Campaign has been calling for these measures as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.

When the government announced that it would introduce a ban on tobacco displays and age-restrict vending machines in December last year, Cancer Research UK, with its partners in the Smokefree Action coalition worked hard to persuade Parliamentarians of the need for these measures and to go further and remove tobacco vending machines altogether.

After a lot of meetings, letters and over 8,000 emails from our supporters, our hard work finally paid off when MPs voted to ban cigarette vending machines completely and to end the display of tobacco at the point of sale. The Bill then passed between the House of Lords and Commons to be finalised before being passed into law yesterday.

Every year around 340,000 under-16s try cigarettes for the first time. These measures will help to significantly reduce the number of young people taking up smoking – a lethal addiction that kills half of all long term users.

After the Bill received Royal Assent – the final step for the Bill to become a law – Harpal Kumar, our chief executive, said:

“This is a great result. A complete ban on vending machines will reduce children’s access to cigarettes and putting tobacco out of sight in shops will also help to protect young people from tobacco marketing. It’s vital we do all we can to stop young people succumbing to an addiction that kills half of all long term smokers and this legislation is an important step towards that goal.

“Parliament should rightly feel proud of putting the health of our children ahead of the profit of the tobacco industry. Our supporters deserve congratulations also. Their involvement helped communicate to their MP just how strong the public backing was for these measures.”

Your support has been vital in helping us achieve this fantastic result; so on behalf of everyone at Cancer Research UK, thank you!

Helen Haggart, Tobacco Control Officer