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Legal Smoking Age To Rise To 21 Under Proposed Legislation

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Legal Smoking Age To Rise To 21 Under Proposed Legislation

The legal age for purchasing cigarettes and tobacco products is set to rise to 21 under new legislation introduced by the Minister for Health, RTÉ reported today.

Stephen Donnelly acquired cabinet approval for the bill on Tuesday.

The bill intends to prevent teenagers from taking up smoking and becoming addicted to tobacco products.

The ban will not extend to vaping products.

Reducing Teenage Smokers

With the current minimum buying age of 18, it is easier for 15, 16 and 17 year-olds to acquire tobacco products.

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By increasing the minimum age it will prevent teenagers from purchasing or gaining access to tobacco products.

The bill is designed so as not to impact those currently aged between 18 and 21 who are legally entitled to purchase tobacco products.

The prohibition on the retail sector of tobacco products will not impact this in-between age cohort.

Raising the minimum age is expected to dissuade addiction levels.

Donnelly first expressed his intention to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products in March.

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Donnelly said, “Really it’s a measure aimed at people who are 15, 16, 17 years of age that with a smoking age at 18, they find it relatively easy to buy cigarettes… but if you move to 21 it makes it much more difficult.”

According to the ‘Tobacco 21’ report but the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group (RCPI), experimentation with smoking is its highest between the ages of 15 and 17.

The report added that raising the legal age of purchase could cut smoking rates by 25% among young teenagers.

‘In The Right Direction’

The director of Advocacy and Patient Support with the Irish Heart Foundation Chris Macey said on Morning Ireland, “We would regard this as one of the most important public health measures for years and a really a crucial step to protect the next generation from the deadly effects of smoking.

“There’s still 4,500 people dying every year as a direct result of smoking.

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“As a nation and as a government, we sort of lost our way in tobacco control for many years and this really changes the dial or will change the dial back in the right direction.”

Macey added that the proposed policy is the logical next step.

He said, “What we would like to see is for this to come in and be accompanied by a national debate on phasing out he legal age of sale of tobacco completely over time.”

Further legislation will also ban the sale of tobacco and vape products from vending machines.

There are plans too to ban disposable vapes, as well as addressing the flavours and bright-coloured packaging for vaping products.

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This follows proposed legislation in the UK banning disposable vapes and initiating the process of outlawing tobacco sales to customers born after a specific date.

Read More: Retailers Against Smuggling Reveal 25% Of Irish People Bought Products Off The Black Market

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