SMOKERS in Scarborough have stubbed out controversial plans to ban cigarette displays in town shops.
The government has announced proposals to bar counter sales and introduce plain packaging to tackle underage smokers and the country’s chronic health problems.
The news comes after shocking figures showed 235 people in the Scarborough area died from smoking in 2010 – a figure nearly double the number of heart disease and stroke victims during the same period.
The proposals would see displays of cigarettes and tobacco moved under the counter and will come into force in some shops as early as next year.
Tobacconist Kris Parry, who owns the specialist award-winning Black Swan Shoppe in Bar Street, Scarborough, said the legislation was short-sighted.
He said: “It will actually make children more keen to take up smoking because it will be like a taboo for them.
“When we had the smoking ban there were actually a lot of people who actually started and were rebelling against the ‘nanny state’.”
Mr Parry, who was awarded the title of retailer of the year by the Pipe Livery in 2009, said smokers were being unfairly targeted again. He added: “They say smoking creates a big burden on the NHS but the taxes they get more than covers the costs of smokers.
“We are the only country in the EU which enforces the rules like they should be but it is ridiculous.
“It just seem like they are trying to change things for the sake of it.”
Smokers in Scarborough said they were hardly lit up by the plans.
Simon Waudby, 40, from Sherburn, said removing the visual temptation of cigarette packets would make little difference. “It is never going to work.
“If you want cigarettes you can get them, there is always a way around it.
“By putting the cigarettes in plain packaging or hidden away it gives underage smokers something to aim for and rebel against.”
University student Michael Onica, 19, said: “The packaging with all of the gold and silver is quite attractive for younger people so perhaps stopping them from seeing that would reduce the numbers who are smoking.”
However, fellow student David Wilkinson, 20, said: “It’s not going to stop me buying them at all.”
Former newsagent Nancy Strachan, 65, said any changes wouldn’t affect trade as smokers were so entrenched in their routine.
She added: “If you want a cigarette you will have one and this will not make a bit of difference.
“It is a habit and people crave for a cigarette.”
Nicola Ross, 32, of Filey Road, added: “It won’t make a difference, I came back from Canada last year and they had done the same there, but nothing changed at all.”
However, Margaret Hewitson, from North Yorkshire Stop Smoking Service, encouraged Scarborough’s smoking population to think about quitting.
She added: “Going smoke free is the best thing you can do for your long-term health.
“In the first few weeks of stopping withdrawal symptoms can be at their worst but we offer encouragement and tips on dealing with cravings and stop smoking medication.”