Press Article: Change in Age of Sales for Tobacco - Factsheets 23/07/07
Change in Age of Sales for Tobacco - Factsheets 23/07/07
New Government legislation will raise the age of sale for tobacco from 16 to 18 years of age. Details of the campaign can be found at www.tobaccoagechange.co.uk.
Changing the legal age of the sale of tobacco follows the introduction of the Smokefree legislation on July 1st 2007 and is aimed at reducing smoking prevalence rates among young people which currently stand at around 9 per cent of 11-15 year olds(1) and 26 per cent of 16-19 year olds.(2) Help is at hand for teenagers wanting to quit, with the NHS providing a range of options through the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169 and www.gosmokefree.co.uk. Between April and December 2006, 11,258 under 18s set a quit date with their free local NHS Stop Smoking Service, with 37% successful at four weeks.(3)
Dawn Primarolo, Minister for Public Health said, "Currently, half of all teenagers who smoke 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."
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh Smoke Free North East said "Raising the age of sale to 18 years of age makes buying cigarettes consistent with other age-restricted sales such as alcohol, and it sends a clear message that tobacco is a lethal product. Tobacco products kill one in two users and any measures which prevent children from taking it up in the first place are to be welcomed. By raising the age of sale, children will be delayed from experimenting. The longer we can get them to delay the less likely they are to take up smoking."
Retailers that stock tobacco will have a legal obligation not to sell to under 18s and will risk prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 if they do so. Association of Convenience Stores Chief Executive, James Lowman, said: "The Government's campaign must ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them when the law changes. Retailers will be the frontline defence against under 18s buying tobacco and this campaign will help them to do this job. We welcome the opportunity to
work with the Department of Health to ensure customers are aware of the change and that no one is caught by surprise on 1st October."
1 Department of Health - Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2004
2 General Household Survey 2003-4
3 Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2006 to December 2006, Q3 Quarterly Report
Raising the age of sale of tobacco
Information for retailers
From Monday, October 1st 2007 the law for selling tobacco will change. It will be illegal for retailers to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 (an increase from 16)in England and Wales. It is expected that the change in law will also come into effect in Scotland from the same date.
Why is the legislation being changed? Most addicted adult smokers began as teenagers. This change in the law is to help prevent children and young people from starting in the first place, therefore avoiding the serious health dangers of smoking.
What does this mean for retailers?
The only real change for retailers is that from October 1st, they will need to ensure their customers are 18 or over before selling them tobacco products, rather than 16 or over, as the law currently states. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, loose rolling tobacco and rolling papers, and the law applies to both over the counter and vending machine sales. As before, retailers will need to display a sign clearly stating the age restriction on tobacco products. The requirements are the same as before in all respects other than that the age will change from 16 to 18. The sign must say: 'It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18'. The vending machine notice must state: "This machine is only for the use of people aged 18 or over".
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
The penalties for selling tobacco products to someone under the legal age will be the same from October 1st as they are now. Selling tobacco to anyone under-age can result in a fine of up to £2,500. Failing to display the statutory notice can result in a fine of up to £1,000. This applies to both over the counter and vending machine sales. To ensure customers are 18 or over, retail staff are advised to always ask those who look under-age to see an accredited proof of age card or other valid form of id.
Proof of age
Valid proof of age documents include:
Photo driving licence
Portman ?Prove It? card
On all proof of age cards, look for the PASS hologram logo. For more information visit: www.pass-scheme.org.uk
Trading Standards Officers will be responsible for enforcing the law, as they do currently. They will be working collaboratively with retailers to help them prepare for the change and to ensure compliance. Offences can only be proven through carefully supervised test purchasing using volunteer teenagers.
What information and support is being made available?
The Department of Health is running a communications campaign and making a number of resources available to retailers as part of this:
- Early information for those businesses with high volumes of 16-17 year old customers
- A 'toolkit' of information for all retailers, including signage (available in late August)
- A dedicated website, tobaccoagechange.co.uk, containing information on the legislation and communications campaign, as well as useful advice on preparing for the change, to make it as straightforward as possible for retailers and their staff.
The communications campaign is also designed to raise awareness among teenagers of the change in the law, so that no one is caught by surprise when it comes into force on October 1st. The campaign includes advertising, media relations, a digital campaign and work with youth organisations.
For more information on the change in legislation or the communications campaign, or to access additional resources, visit tobaccoagechange.co.uk or call 020 7492 0980.
Raising the age of sale of tobacco
Information for teenagers
From Monday, October 1st 2007 the law for selling tobacco will change. It will be illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 (an increase from 16) in England and
Wales. It is expected that the change in law will also come into effect in Scotland from the same date.
Why is it happening?
Most addicted adult smokers began as teenagers. This change in law is to help prevent children and young people from starting in the first place, therefore avoiding the serious health dangers of smoking.
Half of all teenagers who are currently smoking will die from diseases caused by tobacco if they continue to smoke. One quarter will die after 70 years of age and one quarter before, with those dying before 70 losing on average 23 years of life.
The younger a smoker starts, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease or disabling respiratory illness.
Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times as likely to die from cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their mid-20s.
How will it affect young people?
From October 1st 2007, young people will need to be 18 to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products. Shops will be required by law not to sell to under 18s and risk prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 if they do so.
18 and 19 year olds who want to buy cigarettes are advised to carry an accredited proof of age card or other valid form of ID (passport, photo driving licence) to prove their age.
What help is available for those that want to stop smoking?
For those who want to stop smoking, the NHS offers a range of services that can help them. Would-be-quitters can call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0 169 or visit www.gosmokefree.co.uk to find the option that's right for them.
Since the start of 2006, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been made available on prescription to 12-18 year olds for the first time. As well as getting an NRT prescription from their GP, teenagers can also get it from their local NHS Stop Smoking Service.
Many young people are already trying to stop smoking. In the nine months between April and December 2006 11,258 people aged under 18 set a quit date with their local NHS Stop Smoking Service, with 37% successful at four weeks. (Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2006 to December 2006 (Q3 - Quarterly report))
Smoking can have a dramatic effect on how young people look. It prematurely ages skin by between 10 and 20 years; gives a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and a gaunt look; causes gum disease and bad breath; stains teeth and fingers; and increases the risk of cellulite. (CMO 2003 report/ASH)
Smoking can also make people less attractive. Over two-thirds of young people say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness; nearly half of men associate smoking with wrinkles, bad skin, and less enjoyable kissing; and nearly half of smokers say they would quit to improve their sex appeal. (Survey conducted by ICM Research for the NHS
For more information about the change in the law, call 020 7492 0980. A dedicated website
for young people affected by the change is being launched in mid-August.