pubs scrutinised by David Castle Cigarette vending machines are on trial in Buckinghamshire following Government concerns over their accessibility to under-age children. Trading Standards officers are currently looking at the siting of machines in all licensed premises and are expected to present their findings to Department of Health officials later this month. The Government could impose stricter controls on vending machines, including "smart" schemes designed to prevent under-16s from using them. The licensed trade currently operates a voluntary code of practice which relies on pubs to site vending machines in places where staff can easily see them, and to actively prevent under-age children using them. A licensee caught allowing under-16s to buy cigarettes from the pub's machines could face a fine of up to £2,500. There are currently around 100,000 cigarette vending machines in the UK, 96% of which are in licensed premises. Sales of cigarettes from vending machines in the UK account for around 3.5% of total sales, compared with Germany's 35%. All machines come under the watchful eye of the National Association of Cigarette Machine Operators. Chairman Ken Simcox said the onus was on the licensee to put a vending machine where children couldn't get to it, but that "this is not always easy to do, especially in some themed pubs". "The Government can insist that children can't use cigarette vending machines, in which case we have to have some kind of control which prevents under-16s from coming into a pub and using them," said Simcox. If the Government does decide on better controls, Simcox said he favoured an "intelligent token" scheme, currently on trial in 100 pubs in Dublin, in which vending machine users must purchase a token from behind the bar before any money can be inserted into the machine.