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Cigarette vending machines banned in England

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LONDON — Cigarette vending machines were banned in England on Saturday, a move the government hopes will cut the numbers of children smoking.

Anyone caught selling cigarettes from the machines, usually found in pubs and clubs, could face a fine of £2,500 ($3,900, 2,900 euros). Pubs will still be able to sell cigarretes from behind the bar.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Smoking is one of the biggest and most stubborn challenges in public health. Over eight million people (around 15 percent) in England still smoke and it causes more than 80,000 deaths each year.

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“Cigarette vending machines are often unsupervised, making it easy for children to purchase cigarettes from them.

“The ban on cigarette sales from vending machines will protect children by making cigarettes less accessible to them — we want to do everything we can to encourage young people not to start smoking in the first place.”

The British Heart Foundation charity said that around 200,000 youngsters start smoking regularly in England each year, with around 11 percent of regular smokers aged 11 to 15 getting their cigarettes from vending machines.

It is illegal to sell tobacco in Britain to anyone under the age of 18.

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Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, cigarrete vending machines are to be banned in Northern Ireland in February, while Scotland and Wales are committed to introducing a ban.

Meanwhile, in April 2012, all large retailers in England and Scotland will have to take all tobacco off display, with small shops having until April 2015 to comply.

The government is due to launch a public consultation on whether cigarettes should be sold in plain packaging with no logos or branding.

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Smoking in enclosed public places was banned in England in July 2007.


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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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FIFA chief urges action after racist abuse halts Serie A game

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Sunday the problem of racism in Italian football has "not improved" after a Serie A match between Atalanta and Fiorentina was halted for several minutes because of racist abuse of Brazilian Dalbert.

Fiorentina defender Dalbert, 26, asked the referee to halt play after half an hour at the Stadio Ennio Tardini until a warning statement was read out by the stadium speaker to jeers and whistles from the Atalanta fans.

Play resumed after three minutes with visitors Fiorentina leading 1-0 after a goal from Federico Chiesa.

"In Italy the situation has not improved and this is serious," Infantino, in Italy ahead of the FIFA Best Awards on Monday, told the Italian Rai2 channel.

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