TOBACCO display cuts will stop more North East children from taking up smoking, it was claimed today.
New laws on point of sale come into force on Friday.
All large shops will have to hide from view the tobacco brands available.
Ailsa Rutter, of anti-smoking group Fresh, said: “If you walk into any shop across the country currently, you can’t help but notice the highly colourful tobacco displays, designed to catch the eye and attract customers.
“These are often directly behind sweet counters, catching the eye of children.
“In the North East, the average age that people start smoking is just 15, but some start as young as nine years old.
“Smoking is a childhood addiction and that is why making cigarettes less visible to young people is a positive move forward in reducing tobacco promotion.”
Richard Ferry, of the North East Trading Standards Association, said: “Tobacco is the only legal product on our shelves that is used exactly as the manufacturers intend – to kill one in two long term users.
“We support these efforts to make cigarettes seem less glamorous to children and young people, to reduce the likelihood of under-age purchase attempts.”