Page last updated at 20:00 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 21:00 UK

Tobacco buying age to rise to 18


Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has announced that the legal age at which people can buy tobacco products will rise from 16 to 18.

The change will come into force on 1 September.

"It is clear that we must do all we can to deter our children and young people from taking up the smoking habit," said Mr McGimpsey.

"Smoking kills and I want that message to be heard loud and clear by our children and young people."

The minister also outlined other measures he is taking to deter young people from taking up the habit.

"I understand that raising the age of sale will not, in itself, solve the problems of children's smoking. It is one step along the way," he said.

"Education programmes and promotional campaigns, highlighting the dangers of smoking, will of course continue."

Dr Colin Hamilton, chair of the BMA's Public Health Committee in Northern Ireland, welcomed the announcement.

"This will go some way to saving the lives of many people who frequently take up smoking when too young to be concerned about its life threatening consequences," he said.

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