Alex Massie

Wouldn’t it be easier to just lock-up the kids?

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The latest salvo in the War on People of Smoke:

Displaying cigarettes in shops could be banned under government plans being considered in a bid to reduce smoking and discourage children from starting.

Ministers are also considering tougher controls on vending machines in pubs and restaurants.

A public consultation due to start within months will call for the public's opinions on these issues.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said it was "vital" to teach children that "smoking is bad".

"If that means stripping out vending machines or removing cigarettes from behind the counter, I'm willing to do that," she said.

Whatever next? I suppose there's little point in arguing that Ms Primarolo is in no position to determine whether or not "smoking is bad"*. Equally, I defy you to find a single teenager who has walked into a corner shop a non-smoker and left it a smoker because they could see some cigarettes on display behind the counter. Have these interfering busy-bodies nothing better to concern themselves with? Silly question...

*UPDATE: By which I don't mean to dispute the obvious medical consequences of smoking (though most smokers do, of course, actually escape a "smoking-related" death). But even so, what is true in aggregate is not necessarily true in individual cases. In any case, that's for individuals to decide for themselves, not for the government. In the grand scheme of matters, this is trivial. But if cigarettes are legal why can't they be displayed?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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