A VENDING machine firm has been forced to develop a new system following the introduction of a ban on cigarette dispensers in public areas.
R Duckworth Ltd, based on Clifton Road, Marton, has created a landlord-controlled vending machine to ensure no one below the age of 18 can purchase cigarettes illegally.
The new legislation has cost the firm, which has been creating vending machines for all manner of goods since the early 1940s and was incorporated in 1944, thousands of pounds.
Duckworth managing director Rod Bullough said: “We’ve created what we call ‘back bar vending’ which is legal and a totally new process in the pub trade.
“We’ve taken such a battering with the Government legislation but this is building all the time now.
“The new system adheres to the Department of Health guidelines where the packet fronts aren’t on display and health warning decals are written on them and the landlord can age-check the person buying them.
“We’re rebuilding the company now, having to take out the big machines and put smaller machines behind bars. We’ve used additional staff and it’s been a huge effort – all to get no further along.”
The new machines will help safeguard 20 jobs at the firm.
The ban was brought into effect on October 1 after being passed as part of the Health Bill in October 2009.
And Mr Bullough blasted the Government’s new regulations that he says give short shrift to his industry.
He added: “We have become the flotsam and jetsam of Government policy. The legislation which has been enacted will have no effect on reducing the number of underage smokers.
“Cigarette machines are located only in licensed premises, the lies which have been spun that there are hordes of children walking our streets looking for cigarette machines to purchase cigarettes from is simply untrue.
“The figures used to qualify these facts are from questionnaires filled out by children at school, in those figures 11 per cent said they used a cigarette vending machine to purchase cigarettes. Where then, did the other 89 per cent buy their cigarettes from?”
“We’ve tried to talk to health minister Andrew Lansley, Prime Minister David Cameron, Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. None will meet us.”
Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards service, said: “We welcome the new legislation because it clarifies the law.
“In the past, the sale of tobacco products via vending machines has not been sufficiently managed or controlled by business.
“Previous legislation was also unclear about who was responsible if an underage sale took place.”