The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed a pledge by the Labour Party to outlaw proxy sales of tobacco for children.

Next Monday Baroness Angela Smith will propose an amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill specifying fines of up to £5,000 for anyone caught buying cigarettes or tobacco for a child. Labour said if it fails to win the backing of Parliament, the law change will be added to its manifesto.

The measures would apply to England and Wales. Buying cigarettes for underage smokers is already illegal in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Executive is also looking at making it an offence.

Labour shadow minister for public health Luciana Berger said: “Buying alcohol on behalf of underage children is already illegal, so it doesn’t make sense not to have the same penalty for tobacco products when they kill half of all lifetime smokers. Most young smokers have their cigarettes bought for them by another person, so it’s vital that we address this.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome Labour’s pledge to make proxy purchasing of tobacco an offence in line with that of alcohol.

“Retailers are currently faced with different rules for different age restricted products and are not supported by the law when attempting to tackle the purchase of tobacco for minors.

“Retailers need a joined up approach from government, local authorities and trading standards to help them in tackling underage consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and this must be supported by robust legislation and enforcement. Making proxy purchasing of tobacco illegal would be an important step forward.”