Smoking age limit to be raised to 20

(11.01.2024.)

Smoking, buying tobacco products, as well as selling them will not be allowed for persons under the age of 20. These restrictions will also apply to tobacco substitute products, herbal smoking products, electronic smoking devices and refill containers. This is provided for by amendments to the law, which were adopted by the Saeima in the final reading on Thursday, 11 January. The ban will come into force on 1 January 2025. To date, these products were available to persons aged 18 and over. 

“A significant number of people become nicotine addicts, even before reaching the age of majority. We must do everything possible to protect the health of children and young people,” says Andris Bērziņš, Chair of the Social and Employment Matters Committee responsible for preparing the draft law in the Saeima, emphasising that the amendments are the next step in reducing the attractiveness of smoking and the accessibility of smoking products among young people. Tobacco consumption in the EU is the biggest avoidable health risk and the main cause of premature death, causing nearly 780 000 deaths every year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For the sale of tobacco products, tobacco substitute products, herbal smoking products, electronic smoking devices or refill containers thereof to persons under 20 years of age, a fine will be imposed on the seller from EUR 280 to EUR 700, and on a legal person – from 700 to EUR 7100. Until now, the sale of these products to underage consumers could be fined between EUR 280 and EUR 350, and between EUR 700 and EUR 1400 in case of a legal person.

In turn, persons under 20 years of age may be subject to a warning or a fine of up to EUR 15 for smoking, using smokeless tobacco products or tobacco substitute products. The same penalty is provided for the purchase or storage of these products.

The amendments also prohibit the placing on the market of liquids for electronic smoking devices and tobacco substitute products containing flavourings other than those which imitate the smell or taste of tobacco. These restrictions will come into force on 1 January 2025. At the same time, there is a restriction on the production and placing on the market of tobacco products and other smoking products that visually resemble sweets, snacks or toys.

The amendments also introduce stricter requirements to be met by tobacco substitute products in order to be placed on the market, including contents, packaging design and the mandatory information to be displayed on the products.

With the amendments, the current sales and advertising restrictions on tobacco products, electronic smoking devices and their refill containers, as well as the requirements regarding sponsorship and packaging will be extended to include tobacco substitute products and tobacco heating appliances. They will be in force from 1 August this year. The amendments will also provide for the imposition of a fine for infringements of the regulation on the circulation of tobacco substitute products, for example, their purchase on the internet. Until now, tobacco heating devices as well as tobacco substitute products have not been regulated by the law.

 

Saeima Press Service

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