Action to reduce underage tobacco sales

Friday 13 November 1998

Press release: Embargo: 00:01, 13 November 1998

Two thousand times more cash is being raised from children under 16 buying cigarettes than is raised from fines on retailers who break the law on underage tobacco sales.

In a new paper, ASH calls on the Government to undertake a number of measures to help reduce the underage sales of tobacco [1]. These measures include:

  • the current legislation on underage tobacco sales is inadequate and should be strengthened [2]
  • as an interim alternative measure to introducing changes to legislation we ask the Government to produce a good practice guide on underage tobacco sales for local authorities
  • introduce one licensing system to cover all age restricted products.

Nikki Wade, Project Manager at ASH said:”there are inconsistencies in the legislation relating to age restricted products.” She continued “a clear duty is placed on local authorities to ‘enforce’ the legislation on fireworks, yet for a product that kills if used as directed by the manufacturer – tobacco – local authorities are only required to ‘consider’ action.”

The sale of tobacco products to children underthe age of 16 has been illegal in the UK since 1908. Yet, in spite of the legislation, it is estimated that children aged between 11 and 16 years spend around £135 million a year on cigarettes. The total amount of fines to retailers for underage sales of tobacco products is in the region of £70,000 a year.

[1] ‘Enforcement action to reduce underage tobacco sales to young people’. ASH, Nov. 1998
[2] Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991



Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Nikki Wade, Project Manager (020) 7739 5902 or 01223 475133 (Wed. and Fri.)

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