Eight prominent health campaigners have urged the Government not to backtrack on banning cigarette vending machines.
In July health minister Anne Milton hinted that the ban, set for October 2011, could be shelved — she said the Government was in talks about measures tackling smoking "given the challenges facing business competition and costs".
But a joint letter in the Times today, signed by chiefs of eight medical groups including Cancer Research UK, ASH and the British Medical Association, urges the Government to push ahead with the move.
The letter says: "Vending machines are the easiest way for children to buy cigarettes, and under-age smokers use them more than adults.
"It is inconceivable that an age-restricted product like fireworks could be bought without a face-to-face transaction, and cigarettes should be no different.
"We urge the Government to resist pressure from those who make money from tobacco."
Imperial Tobacco is seeking a judicial review of the vending machine ban — saying measures such as electronic ID and remote controls have stopped underage sales from machines in other countries.