Shop cigarette threat

PUBLISHED: 06:25 03 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:41 24 May 2010

YOUNG smokers desperate for a nicotine fix are responding with violence when newsagents refuse to sell them a packet of cigarettes

YOUNG smokers desperate for a nicotine fix are responding with violence when newsagents refuse to sell them a packet of cigarettes.Shopkeepers around Weston say problems with youngsters under the age of 16 trying to get hold of cigarettes are worse than ever, and girls pose more of a threat than boys.Some newsagents say that when they refuse the youngsters cigarettes because they are obviously under-age, they return to their premises the next day to find windows smashed and doors damaged.One shopkeeper says the problem is out of control and says there is a desperate need for the Government and schools to do more. The store owner did not want to be named for fear of reprisals and says it is unfair they could be prosecuted for selling cigarettes to youngsters when so many ask for them.The problems come as Government ministers recently unveiled plans to increase the legal smoking age to 17 or 18. Ministers hope it will discourage younger teenagers from taking up the habit.The newsagent said: "The situation is getting worse. It's awful and it is girls in particular who are the problem. They hang around in groups and then say they are 16 but I won't serve them because I know I could get prosecuted if I did."But if the Government is so ready to prosecute us then it should be doing more to stop youngsters smoking.

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