Shopkeepers should be educated about smoking among childrenBMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7028.441a (Published 17 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:441
- Michael Devine,
- Jean Vickers
- Senior registrar in public health medicine Consultant in public health medicine Wigan and Bolton Health Authority, Bolton BL1 1JF
EDITOR,—We agree with Jonathan Foulds and Christine Godfrey about the importance of ensuring shopkeepers' compliance with the law that prohibits the sale of cigarettes to children under 16 years old.1 The authors also suggest that children's smoking could be reduced by a change in public attitudes, so that people who sell cigarettes to children are subject to public disapproval. One factor that has received little attention is the possibility of reducing the sales of cigarettes to children by changing the knowledge and attitudes of shopkeepers through health education. The potential of this approach to reduce children's access to cigarettes was shown by a study in the United States, which reported a reduction of 35% in the sales of cigarettes to minors after an educational campaign directed at shopkeepers.2
In a survey of shopkeepers from one district in the north west of England we found that almost half perceived children's smoking as a normal part of growing up and that 42% did not believe that it was difficult for children to give up smoking.3 In addition to the measures recommended by Foulds and Godfrey, we believe that there is potential for reducing children's access to cigarettes by improving shopkeepers' knowledge about and attitudes towards children's smoking.