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Last Updated: Monday, 1 January 2007, 13:40 GMT
In quotes: Reaction to smoking age rise
Hand on cigarette packet
Some organisations are concerned enforcement may prove difficult
The government is to raise the legal minimum age for buying tobacco in England and Wales from 16 to 18 from October.

The move will follow the introduction of a ban on smoking in public and work places in Wales in April and England three months later.

Below are reactions to the change.

JAMES LOWMAN, ASSOCIATION OF CONVENIENCE STORES

What we are going to find in October is people who have been legally buying tobacco for a year or more are suddenly going to be told overnight that they can not buy tobacco.

Now already, denying someone... alcohol or tobacco because they are under age is the biggest reason for abuse, intimidation, violence in stores.

And this is going to be another massive flashpoint that the government has got to start acting now to address.

NEIL RAFFERTY, PRO-SMOKING GROUP, FOREST

Smoking is an activity for informed adults. We have no strong objection but the difficulties as we see it, is with enforcement.

The current age limit of 16 is not well enforced at all. And there's no reason to think that this new age limit will be any different.

There are also certain inconsistencies thrown up. You can fight for your country, drive a car and have sex but you can't have a cigarette afterwards.

DEBORAH ARNOTT, ANTI-SMOKING GROUP, ASH

We think it is a move in the right direction, but it needs to be properly enforced, and there need to be proper penalties.

Last year I think something like 117 retailers were taken to court for selling to under-age smokers, while we know that 70% of under-age smokers buy their cigarettes from retailers.

So it is not being properly enforced, and when they are taken to court, the penalties are very light.

We would like to see a licensing system, so if retailers sell cigarettes to under-age smokers, they are at risk of losing their licence.

BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (BMA) SPOKESWOMAN

Young people, especially girls, still think it looks "cool" to smoke.

Films and celebrities perpetuate this image, and the BMA would like to see this tackled.

Accessibility is a real problem. The fact is, we know that young people have no problem in buying cigarettes now.

There is no point increasing the age limit to 18 if shops and other outlets are happy to sell tobacco to children.

HELENA SHOVELTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BRITISH LUNG FOUNDATION

Most smokers start as teenagers so we heartily welcome the raising of the minimum legal age to buy tobacco.

It would also help if the government banned the sale of tobacco products from vending machines as this would make it even harder for the under-18s to buy them.

What we also need, though, is better smoking cessation services for teenagers who want to stop.

CAROLINE FLINT, PUBLIC HEALTH MINISTER

The law as it stands in relation to 16-year-olds has not been as effective as it might be and that is partly because retailers have said it is harder to actually define whether a 14 or 15-year-old is above the age of 16.

They [retailers] have said actually raising it to 18 will make it a lot easier because there is more ID available for that age group.

PAUL RAMSDEN, DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TRADING STANDARDS INSTITUTE

The Trading Standards Institute supports the change to the legal age limit on sales of tobacco.

The institute also believe that changing the age of sale in line with the age limit on, for example, alcohol sales will help eliminate confusion among retailers.




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