Raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 could, according to a recently published report, save hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK. The report, which was published by the Institute of Medicine, suggest that making the switch could prevent around a quarter of a million premature deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019; they went on to suggest that making that change could lead to a 12% reduction in the number of smokers by the year 2100. Of course, the study was based in the US, but there could be some valuable ideas for the UK contained within it.
Although lowering the smoking age might not be a completely, all-encompassing solution, it is certainly something that could be considered." With the UK's smoking age resting at 16 – although you must be 18 to purchase tobacco products – many people have already argued that there is not enough being done to prevent the habit from continuing as it is. "Raising the age, even so that is 18, could have a positive effect on public health. If it stops even some of the children from picking up the habit that might otherwise have started, then it can only be a good thing."
Though it is not currently much in the headlines, the risk of smoking and the deaths that are caused by it are often cause for smaller news stories. There was, for example, a sudden drop in the number of UK smokers when people were banned from smoking indoors in public areas. Lowering of the legal smoking age could lead to a very similar drop and, in time, it could lead to better health for the general public." If the study produced by the Institute of Medicine is to be believed – even though it is based in the US – then there may well be a valuable point in raising the legal age. It's clear that there is some sort of perceived stigma surrounding smoking, or 16 year olds would be able to purchase tobacco products for themselves. The fact that a person can smoke at 16 but not buy the products is clearly a reflection of a societal assumption more than anything else. It's simply a case of the law having to catch up with itself by bringing the smoking age to the same as the buying age. If that's done then we're certain that we'll say a change in health in the future."