Citizen Card: good news for retailers but unlikely to reduce teenage smoking

Monday 15 February 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release15th February 1999 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

CitizenCard — Good news for retailers but unlikely to reduce teenage smoking, saysASH.

ASH cautiously welcomed today’s launch of CitizenCard, the proof-of-age card designedto stop illegal sales of tobacco and other age-related goods, but remains sceptical aboutits likely success as a tobacco control measure.

ASH Director, Clive Bates, said: “This scheme is good for retailers who want tokeep within the law but it is unlikely to have much impact on smoking rates amongteenagers.  Significant reductions in teenage smoking will mainly be achieved bybanning tobacco advertising, improving youth-orientated communication about smoking, andraising the price of cigarettes.”

Bates added: “While proof-of-age cards have some merit in reminding both retailersand purchasers of the law, they can only be effective as part of a package of enforcementmeasures.”  In a recent report [1] ASH drew attention to the fact that onaverage there are only 140 prosecutions per year for illegal sales of tobacco to minorsand the total amount of fines amounts to only £70,000 in stark contrast to the £135million spent by children under 16 on cigarettes.

ASH argues that other enforcement measures should also be carried out if there is to bereal progress in reducing sales of tobacco to young people.  These include carryingout regular surveys to establish which retailers are breaking the law; establishing anagreed code of practice for retailers; using test purchasing to check adherence of thelaw; establishing a complaints hotline to encourage the public to report illegal sales.While designed to eliminate illegal tobacco sales the above measures could also be appliedto other age-restricted products.


[1] Enforcement action to reduce underage tobacco sales to young people.  ASH,November 1998.




Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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