Tobacco manufacturers and retailers have spoken out against talk of banning packs of ten cigarettes in Scotland, arguing that the implication they are more attractive to children implies irresponsibility on the part of retailers.

Following the smoking ban in Scotland last month, the Scottish Executive is likely to campaign for a ban on sales of tens. A spokeswoman said: "The Smoking Prevention Working Group is looking at a wide range of issues, including evidence that suggests underage smokers are more likely to buy packs of ten."

But tobacco producers have said this unfairly discriminates against adults who want to moderate their intake. "About 20% of UK smokers buy tens," said Ben Townsend, Gallaher's corporate affairs manager. "We feel the majority of retailers are responsible when it comes to selling age-restricted products."

A spokesman for the Association of Convenience Stores said that people should be able to buy packs of ten cigarettes if they wanted to.

The Working Group has not yet reached a conclusion, but it is expected to submit its recommendations next month.

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