Minimum age for tobacco sales hiked to 21 in Ireland

Currently, 18 per cent of the population over the age of 15 are smokers in the country

By AFP

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Published: Tue 14 May 2024, 7:04 PM

Ireland plans to raise the legal minimum age for buying tobacco to 21, according to draft legislation announced Tuesday, making it the highest age limit in the European Union.

Government officials said the proposed law to hike the age from the current 18 has been approved by the cabinet and is aimed at speeding up the reduction of Ireland's adult smoking rate.


Latvia has introduced a law to increase the minimum age to 20 in 2025. In most EU countries, the age limit for buying both tobacco and alcohol is 18, while it is 21 for both in the United States.

Ireland in 2004 became the first EU member to introduce an indoor smoking ban, which saw many other countries follow suit.


Currently, 18 per cent of the population over the age of 15 are smokers, the Department of Health said.

According to Irish health minister Stephen Donnelly, who announced the measure, US evidence shows that increasing the age of sale to 21 "will act to limit the social sources of cigarettes" to young people.

"They will be less likely to be in social groups with persons who can legally purchase cigarettes," said Donnelly.

Evidence also shows that people are at high risk of becoming smokers between the ages of 18 and 21, he said.

The bill will provide that the expanded ban on sales to young people will not apply to those currently between 18 and 21 years old.

It will not impact the minimum legal age of sale of vapes, which was set at 18 last December.

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