Tobacco sales licensing rules in Guernsey to be debated

Deputy Hunter Adam Deputy Adam said smoking was the main cause of premature deaths

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Tobacco retailers in Guernsey will have to obtain an annual licence, if proposals by the Health and Social Services Department are approved.

Health Minister Hunter Adam also wants to give police the power to confiscate cigarettes and "smoking paraphernalia" from under-18s in public places.

The department has proposed licence fees of between £300 and £1,000, depending on the size of the retailer.

Deputies will debate the proposals at their meeting on 28 November.

Additional measures include restricting the display of prices, which has been viewed as a potential loophole following the outlawing of prominent product displays.

The licensing regime would be policed by officers from the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation, who "already visit virtually all of the tobacco outlets".

'Preventable death'

Deputy Adam said the licence fee would be set in such a way as to ensure the cost of administration and enforcement were covered, as well as signage and training.

A further proposal suggests it should cover the cost of the Quitline service, which helps those attempting to give up smoking.

However, the Treasury and Resources Department has warned that some retailers may choose not to sell tobacco products anymore, if a licensing regime is introduced.

This, it said, would reduce the funds available.

A previous tobacco licensing regime, introduced in 1904, was repealed in 1980 because it cost more to administer than was being raised through fees.

Deputy Adam said the proposals were primarily aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking, especially among children.

"Smoking remains the major preventable cause of premature death and ill health in the Bailiwick," he said.

The latest proposals form part of a Tobacco Control Strategy agreed by the States in 2008.

If approved, it is estimated the legislation would come back before deputies for final approval early in 2013.

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