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BMA calls for ban on 10-pack cigarettes

Ten-pack cigarettes should be banned, shops that sell cigarettes should be required to have licences and keep cigarettes under the counter, and tobacco vending machines should be outlawed.

These are the some of the hard-hitting recommendations in the BMA's report Breaking the Cycle of Children's Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, launched today.

Children exposed to tobacco smoke suffer serious health consequences that include respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease. In England, 10% of children who smoke regularly report that they were given cigarettes by their parents.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, said: "It is essential we break the tobacco trap. Young smokers will become tomorrow's parents who smoke and they will continue the cycle of smoking-related ill-health and premature death."

All of the UK will be smokefree from 1 July 2007, when England joins the other nations and prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places.

Other recommendations from the report include ring-fencing 2% of revenues reaised by tobacco tax for use in cessation services and raising the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 18. Healthcare professionals are advised to inform parents who smoke of the health risks that it poses to their children. This is particularly important for children who already have an illness that is caused or exacerbated by parental smoking. Parents who smoke should be encouraged and helped to quit smoking, and to adopt smoke-free homes if they continue to smoke.

Breaking the Cycle of Children's Exposure to Tobacco Smoke can be accessed on the BMA website -