Banning under-21s from purchasing cigarettes would help crack down on young adults smoking, campaigners are saying.
Currently anybody over the age of 18 can purchase cigarettes in the UK.
Campaigners say preventing young people starting is key to meet plans for a smoke-free Britain by 2030.
‘Almost no-one starts smoking after the age of 21,’ Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action On Smoking And Health, told The Sun.
‘Not starting is much easier than quitting.
‘Increasing the age of sale to 21 is a key step towards achieving the government goal of ending smoking by 2030.’
US scientists have recently shown increasing the smoking age limit to 21 resulted in a 39% reduction in smoking rates.
This reduction jumped to 50% in young adults who had close friends that smoked when they were 16.
‘This research indicates that a “social multiplier” effect may amplify the impact of tobacco-21 laws,’ lead author, Dr Abigail Friedman at the Yale School of Public Health, said.
‘While these policies were associated with a 39% drop in the odds of regular smoking overall, the reduction was larger among young people whose friends were likely to smoke before tobacco-21 laws were adopted.
‘This study suggests that tobacco-21 laws may help reduce smoking among those most susceptible.’
Eradicate smoking in Britain
The government recently announced plans to completely eliminate smoking from Britain by 2030.
Tobacco companies will help cover the cost of helping smokers to quit by 2030.
Actions to help people quit include leaflets placed inside cigarette packets and targeting black market cigarettes.
‘The gains in tobacco control have been hard-won, and there’s still much to do,’ the plans say.
‘For the 15% of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities.
‘That’s why the government wants to finish the job.’