Buying tobacco for young people is not doing them a favour Reply

We are delighted that the Scottish Grocers’ Federation and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents are both supportive of our #notafavour campaign.

This campaign aims to reduce proxy purchase – where an adult buys tobacco and passes it on to someone too young to buy it themselves – by challenging the attitudes and assumptions that lead adults to do this.

We all know that it is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 18. With increased vigilance amongst retailers, and the introduction of schemes such as Challenge 25, the number of young people managing to obtain tobacco from shops has been falling year on year.

Most children who smoke now get cigarettes from friends, family and other people they know in an informal secondary market. This “proxy purchase” is also illegal but it is harder for shop staff to identify and difficult for enforcement agencies to address.

We want to see a situation where the only people smoking are the small number of informed adults who choose to do so. Adolescents get addicted to nicotine faster than adults do, they find nicotine more rewarding and they underestimate the health risks of smoking and the chances of getting addicted. The earlier a smoker starts the more health damage results and the harder it is to quit.

Most people understand this and wouldn’t give tobacco to children, not because of the threat of a fine but because they know it’s just wrong.

Yet every day thousands of young people in Scotland are given cigarettes, often with the idea that this is doing them a favour. The result is that every day 36 more young people take up smoking.

Those who do pass on tobacco to those too young to buy it for themselves are usually friends, family and other people they know. People who will be interested in and care about their well-being. So our campaign seeks to highlight how giving tobacco to young people is helping them into ill health, addiction and money worries. It is certainly not doing them a favour.

Launching last November the #notafavour campaign has already seen tens of thousands of leaflets, postcards and flyers distributed around Scotland. Now Phase 2 of the campaign is preparing a suite of new materials, including stickers for tobacco gantries, 3D street art and social media advertising.

All of these will be available free for the campaign website – – so watch that space.


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