Yesterday, one of our reporters was able to buy cigarettes from a vending machine in the Taf pub in the Students’ Union on Park’s Place, Cathays. The vending machine has since been removed after The Cardiffian informed them of the new legal position.
A representative from the Taf, who refused to give his name, claimed the company who owned the machine, which was covered in images of various tobacco brands, was meant to take it away when the ban was enforced.
Yesterday The Cardiffian contacted the National Association of Cigarette Machine Operations and a spokesman said the machine would be removed today.
Cardiff University Students’ Union was unavailable to comment on the delay in removing the machine, despite being contacted multiple times by The Cardiffian.
As of Tuesday, it is illegal to sell cigarettes or any other tobacco products to anyone, regardless of age, from automatic vending machines in Wales. Businesses who are found guilty of selling tobacco from a vending machine could face fines of up to £2,500.
Pubs around Cardiff have prepared for the ban since last year. Pete Harry, Team Leader at nearby pub the Pen and Wig said: “Ours was taken out by the end of October and I actually thought our deadline was sometime that month.
“Because we’re managed by a bigger company, it was all done by our head office – we were sent an email and told someone was taking it out for us. A week later, it was gone.”
Last week, both the Welsh Government and the Welsh Trading Standards reminded businesses about the ban. While tobacco sales from vending machines make up only one per cent of UK tobacco sales, research suggests many underage smokers use these machines, with 10% of regular smokers aged between 11-15 admitting cigarette vending machines are their usual source of tobacco.
Chair of Wales Heads of Trading Standards Steve Whitehouse welcomed the ban. He said: “Across Wales, we have seen more than half of trading standards test purchases with young volunteers result in underage sales from vending machines.
“Banning sales of tobacco from vending machines is a step in the right direction to reducing smoking addiction in childhood and improving the public health of our communities.”
Update: Cardiff Students’ Union have been in touch with The Cardiffian to say the machine has now been removed. Due to a problem with the supplier failing to collect the machine in time for the enforcement of the ban, the Union says they were unable to remove the machine. They are planning an internal investigation to find out why it was left switched on.