Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Tobacco age restriction raised

The legal age for purchasing tobacco products has been raised from 16 years to 18 years old in England and Wales with effect from the 1st October 2007. The increase in the age limit was included in the Health Act 2006.

The changed is aimed at preventing children and young people from starting to smoke therefore avoiding the serious health dangers of smoking. Government statistics show that:

  • A lifelong smoker has a one in two chance of their addiction killing them
  • The younger a smoker starts the more likely they are to be killed by their addiction
  • The earlier children become regular smokers and continue to smoke as adults, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease
  • 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

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this change in law. A consequence may be that more patients aged 16 to 18 years old seek smoking cessation assistance.

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