Wales - still easy for youngsters to buy cigarettes..

August 18, 2008 - An Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales survey, of more than 100 underage smokers (average age is just 14) in the South Wales valleys and Cardiff, found that many are buying smuggled tobacco or are being sold individual cigarettes by shopkeepers who are breaking the law (despite the age limit on tobacco being raised from 16 to 18).

What is striking about this survey is the ease in which young people can feed their deadly habit. For instance, one in five children can buy cigarettes from vending machines, more than eight out of 10 are buying cigarettes from their peers in school and more than one in 10 can buy tobacco from ice cream vans, burger vans and private dwellings. The latest figures, from 2006, suggest that 23% of 15-year-old girls and 12% of boys smoke regularly.

This survey followed a report by the Welsh Heads of Trading Standards in Wales - The Report on Underage Sales of Tobacco in Wales 2007-08 - which found that children were able to buy cigarettes in up to a quarter of shops and supermarkets tested.

ASH Wales today, 8/18/2008 called on the Assembly Government to take a lead and consider licensing retailers to sell tobacco in the same way they are licensed to sell alcohol, which also has an 18 age limit.

Reference: Teenagers Smoking 'Up to 200 Cigarettes a Week' by Madeleine Brindley Health Editor, Western Mail, 8/18/2008.

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