Legal challenge to Scottish cigarette machine ban fails

Cigarette vending machine
Image caption The ban on cigarette vending machines is now expected to go ahead in October

A legal challenge to a ban on tobacco vending machines in Scotland has been rejected by the Court of Session.

Sinclair Collis Ltd, a firm owned by Imperial Tobacco, had argued that the legislation, passed by MSPs but not yet in force, was against the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Doherty rejected that and said enforcing a ban was the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.

Imperial Tobacco said it may consider appealing the decision.

Tobacco vending machines are now likely to be outlawed from October.

The Scottish government welcomed the court's decision and said the new law was a key part of a drive to improve health.

A spokeswoman added: "We robustly defended our proposals to ban cigarette vending machines and are pleased that the Court of Session has today ruled in our favour and that we were successful on the aspects of the case which were before the court.

"Each year in Scotland 15,000 children and young people start smoking and a child who starts smoking at 15 or younger is three times more likely to die of cancer as a result than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s.

"Evidence shows that many young people obtain cigarettes from vending machines, which is why the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 introduced the ban on cigarette sales from vending machines."

Simon Evans, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco, said: "Clearly we're disappointed with the decision.

"Ultimately, with the appeal process, there is 21 days to make an appeal, so we are going to be looking at the judgement in detail. We will consider our options."

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland, said: "I welcome the judgement and I am delighted that this important public health measure has been upheld, and the right of the Scottish Parliament to enact it affirmed.

"Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous and addictive consumer product which is lethal to half its long-term consumers when used as the manufacturers intend.

"It doesn't make sense to sell it through self-service vending machines which are often poorly-supervised and can be accessed by children."

She added: "Big tobacco is well known for using legal challenges to seek to delay effective public health legislation, both in Scotland and internationally.

"Unfortunately these cynical delaying tactics cost lives."

The new Act is also being challenged by Imperial Tobacco over a ban on cigarette displays in shops.

The government announced in January that the display ban for "large retailers" was being delayed beyond October because of the ongoing legal dispute. Small retailers have until 2013.

MSPs backed the proposals in January last year, despite an attempt to block them by the Conservatives.

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