Alliance Youth Chair Stephen Martin has hailed the increase in the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18.
Stephen Martin commented: “The increase in the legal age young people can smoke is a welcome step in the right direction in our efforts to improve public health. Far too many of Northern Ireland’s next generation start out experimenting with tobacco at an increasingly early age only to become life-long smokers. This bringing with it many dangerous side-effects on our young people’s health that are all too well-known. Strikingly, someone who starts smoking at the age of 15 is three times more likely to die of cancer due to smoking than someone who starts in their late 20s. Taking up the habit represents a huge future burden on our already over-stretched public services.”
The Lagan Valley representative added “The introduction of the smoking ban in workplaces proved highly successful and was welcomed by most as a important move in our efforts to improve public health. Its success is down to both co-operation from the public and effective statutory enforcement. Raising the smoking age to 18 will only be truly beneficial if young people take responsibility for our own actions and think about the reasons why they shouldn’t take up smoking in the first place. The new age limit must also be properly enforced with the co-operation of retailers, coupled with a wider public health strategy to discourage young people from being tempted to take up the habit.”
Stephen Martin concluded: “Alliance Youth’s message is clear – don’t let yourself end up not being unable to do the things you want to do in life due to self-inflicted ill health!”