Smoking Age Set To Rise To 21 Under New Legislation

You are viewing content from Ireland's Classic Hits Radio Limerick. Would you like to make this your preferred location?

According to the Minister for Health, the legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products is to increase from 18 to 21, as part of new legislation.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly who first announced his intention to increase the legal age back in March, is set to seek approval from Cabinet on it this week. This legislation for increasing the legal age is aimed at reducing the smoking prevalence and addiction.

This bill is also designed so that it does not affect those who are aged between 18 and 21, and who are currently legally entitled to be sold tobacco products.

The plan to prohibit the retail sale of tobacco products will also not apply to this cohort for a "wash through" period.  

Speaking on this planned legislation, Tánaiste Micheal Martin called it "significant", adding that while there has been much progress over the past two decades in reducing smoking among young people, he did say: "there is an opportunity there to press home the possibilities of really eliminating smoking among younger generations into the future". 

For instance, Mr Martin stated that there is still more work needed to address the issue regarding vapes.

"We have to act. It seems to me the same playbook is at play that the tobacco industry did in the 1950s, 1960s, getting young people addicted to cigarettes and created generations of disease", he said. 

"Potentially the same play book here with young people being incentivised by flavourings, positioning and presentation of the product and potentially long term hard, we have to intervene at this stage".

According to a report from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group (RCPI), smoking experimentation among teenagers is at its highest between the ages of 15 and 17.

The report which has been titled 'Tobacco 21', has said that around 4,500 people die from the effects of smoking in Ireland each year. They have stated that by raising the legal age, this should reduce smoking rates among teenagers by 25%.

The RCPI also stated that thousands of other people suffer with smoke-related diseases, including lung & heart diseases and cancers. 

Director of Advocacy and Patient Support with the Irish Heart Foundation, Chris Macey added that this legislation is one of the most important for Irish healthcare in recent times.

"We would regard this as one of the most important public health measures for years and really a crucial step to protect the next generation from the deadly effects of smoking", Macey said. "There's still 4,500 people dying every year as a direct result of smoking". 

"As a nation and as a Government, we sort of lost our way in tobacco control for many years and this really changes the dial or will change the dial back in the right direction". 



More from National News