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13th May 2024

Smoking age set to increase to 21 following new legislation


The legal age for purchasing cigarettes and other tobacco items is poised to increase to 21, following the introduction of new legislation to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

The minister will seek approval from the Cabinet this week to implement the age increment. The bill is crafted to ensure that individuals currently aged between 18 and 21, who are legally permitted to purchase tobacco products, will not be affected, and focuses on decreasing the prevalence of new smokers and nicotine addiction in teenagers.

Tobacco and vape products sold from vending machines will also be banned as part of the bill, and future legislation plans include the banning of disposable vapes. It’s looking to address the bright coloured packaging and fruity flavours many vapes have, which have been argued to target a younger demographic.

When discussing the proposed bill in March, Donnelly stated that “really it’s a measure aimed at people who are 15, 16, 17 years of age that with a smoking age at 18, they find it relatively easy to buy cigarettes…but that if you move to 21 it makes it much more difficult”⁠

A report called ‘Tobacco 2’ conducted by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group (RCPI), found that teens from the age of 15 to 17 are the most likely to experiment with smoking.

The report said that if the legal age to buy tobacco products was raised to 21, the amount of young people that become addicted would be reduced, and predicted it could even cut the smoking rates in teenagers by 25%.

Around 4,500 people die in Ireland each year from the effects of smoking, according to the RCPI, making it the single biggest contributor to early death. This figure has not even included the number of people that suffer from smoking-related diseases, like heart and lung disease, and cancers.