Cigarette ban for 16 year olds considered
The Government has issued proposals on increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco and tough new sanctions for shop keepers who sell cigarettes to underage teenagers.
Around nine per cent of children aged between 11 and 15 smoke and 70 per cent say that they are able to buy cigarettes from corner shops and newsagents unchallenged.
The Government believes that raising the legal age to 17 or 18 from the current 16 would make it easier for shopkeepers to identify the youngest smokers.
"Smoking is dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely they are to become life-long smokers and to die early.
"Someone who starts smoking aged 15 is three times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their late twenties," said public health minister Caroline Flint.
"Access to cigarettes by under 16s is not as difficult as it should be and this is partly due to retailers selling tobacco to those under the legal age.
"If a particular shop is known locally as the place for children and teenagers to easily buy tobacco, we want to stop that shop selling it."
Sanctions against shops ignoring the rules would include prohibition orders banning them from selling tobacco products.
Find out more about smoking and tobacco