Good news that government is considering raising smoking age to 18

Saturday 12 July 1997
ASH/ Press releases/
Press ReleaseASH News Release – 13 July 1997

News that Government is considering raising smoking age to 18

It is illegal to sell cigarettes to people under 16. Responding to news that the Government is considering raising this age to 18, Clive Bates, Director of ASH – Action on Smoking and Health said:

“This would certainly be a good move, and has already been done in the United States. But it is only one piece in a much bigger jigsaw which includes banning all advertising and promotion, raising the price, having plain packets dominated by warnings and proper enforcement of the age laws”.

“Although even 11 year olds can sometimes acquire cigarettes, this measure would put smoking further out of their reach. Instead of having to find a 14-year old who looks 16, they would need a 16-year old who looks 18 to buy cigarettes for them.”

“The tobacco industry has poured scorn on the idea, but they need to recruit 300 teenagers a day to replace customers that die from smoking related disease. 28% of 15 year olds smoke and the majority of long term smokers start before they are 18. Hardly anyone starts after their early 20s. Recruitment of teenagers is central to the business of selling cigarettes.”

The drinks industry (Portman Group) has introduced voluntary id schemes to help retailers verify the age of teenagers. No-one is required to carry the id card, but if they are over 18 and want to be able to prove their age, teenagers can apply for the card.

“It is ridiculous to pretend that alcohol is somehow more dangerous than tobacco, and this would bring tobacco in line. It would also enable retailers to ask for proof of age, using the same voluntary scheme that the drinks industry has introduced”


For more information contact:

Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director (020) 7739 5902