A policy group from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is calling for the minimum age of sale of tobacco to be raised from 18 to 21, reports RTÉ.
The Tobacco 21 report says raising the minimum legal age for the sale of tobacco products in Ireland would reduce the number of teenagers and young adults who become addicted to tobacco, and could reduce smoking rates by 25 per cent among young teenagers. It states this is fundamental to achieving the Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Ireland targets.
“Tobacco 21 is a simple and effective step on the road to tobacco endgame. It requires only simple amendments to existing legislation and already has strong public support,” said Chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco Professor Des Cox. He said that Ireland was not going to meet the nationwide target of reducing smoking to 5 per cent by 2025 with the policies currently in place.
He continued that most teenagers report finding it easy to get cigarettes directly at the store or through friends, adding that experimentation with smoking is highest among children aged 15 to 17.
The report examines what implementation, public awareness and enforcement measures are needed to effectively roll out the age raise. According to a recent survey of public opinion, 71 per cent of the population aged 15 and older support increasing the minimum legal age for tobacco sale to 21. “Ireland has led in this space before. Innovative policies such as smoke-free workplaces in 2004 and standardised packaging in 2018 have been effective, but we need more ambitious measures to save lives,” Prof Cox said.