Health written question – answered on 17th March 2004.

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Photo of Brian Jenkins Brian Jenkins Labour, Tamworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to reduce the level of smoking in children under the age of 16.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

The White Paper, Smoking Kills, published in December 1998, committed the Government to reduce smoking amongst children aged 11–15 from 13 per cent. to 11 per cent. by 2005, and 9 per cent. by 2010. The latest figures, for 2002, show smoking among 11–15 year olds had fallen to 10 per cent. We have a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, which includes a number of measures likely to make a particular impact on children smoking:

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 provided for a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products: the cigarettes smoked most by children are also those which were most heavily advertised.

Tough enforcement on under-age sales: in September 2000 the Government launched an Enforcement Protocol with local authorities to ensure that the existing legislation on under-age sales is properly enforced.

The Government supports roof of age card schemes, hich protect shopkeepers and children alike.

Tougher new restrictions on siting of cigarette vending machines have been introduced.

The national healthy school standard aims to support schools in the process of becoming healthier and is jointly funded by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health and hosted by the Health Development Agency. The overall aim is to help schools become healthy and effective learning environments and is part of the Government's drive to reduce health inequalities, promote social inclusion and raise educational standards through school improvement. Themes include personal, social and health education, including among others, tobacco.

Maintaining the high price of cigarettes is a particular deterrent for children.

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