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Tobacco-buying age site launch

23rd July 2007

The government will launch a campaign to inform people about the future rise in the legal minimum age for purchasing tobacco in England and Wales.

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A website will be launched and 100,000 retailers will be mass-mailed in order to raise awareness of the change.

As of October 1 2007, the legal age for buying cigarettes or tobacco based products will rise from 16 to 18 years.

Retailers who provide under-18s with tobacco will risk prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500.

The rise means England and Wales will have the same age limit as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

The government wants to reduce the numbers of young smokers. Nearly 1 in 10 young people in the 11 to 15-year-old age group smoke.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said that 50% of young smokers "will die from diseases caused by tobacco if they continue to smoke throughout the course of their life."

"Raising the minimum age at which teenagers can be sold tobacco products will reduce the availability of cigarettes, and could therefore discourage young people from taking up smoking in the first place."

The government has said that the rise in the age limit will allow retailers to recognise under-age smokers. They also believe that it will highlight the hazards of smoking to teenagers.

Maura Gillespie, of the British Heart Foundation, said raising the legal age "sends out a clear message" but more could be done to limit the availability of tobacco.




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