A Look at Legal Age for Smoking Around the World


No Smoking Day is celebrated each year on the second Wednesday of March to help and encourage people over the world to quit smoking. The day is also used to raise awareness about the harmful health effects of tobacco consumption through cigarette and other modes.

The first No Smoking Day was on Ash Wednesday in 1984 in the United Kingdom and since then, it is being celebrated as an annual affair which tries to wean people off the harmful effects of smoking. This year, No Smoking Day 2021 falls on March 10.

Several governments enacted various legislations and comprehensive tobacco control measures to curb smoking. Here we look at some of them:

In India, the Cigarettes Act (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) 1975 mandates a statutory warning of ‘cigarette smoking is injurious to health’ on all cigarette packages, cartons and advertisements. The Central government has proposed that only those who have attained the legal age of 21 years be allowed to smoke. Currently, people over 18 years of age can legally smoke tobacco in the country.

Singapore, too, has a similar rule as their government on January 1, 2020 raised the minimum legal age from 20 to 21 years for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products.

The island nation is not the first country to set the age limit at 21. Other countries include Honduras, Kuwait, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Samoa. All these countries have set the minimum legal age at 21.

Whereas, in the United States, where individual states and cities have raised the minimum purchase age to 21 years, others have maintained it to between 18 and 19 years.

Most countries in the world have the minimum purchase age set at 18. But, the age limit for most does not cover the use and possession of tobacco products. These countries include Australia, India, China, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

However, Germany, where the limit is like the United Kingdom, the minimum smoking age was raised from 16 to 18. In Ukraine, it is legal for people to smoke at age 14, although they must be 18 and above to purchase tobacco products.

Countries like Antigua and Babuda, Belize and Gambia have no age limit at all. While at the other end of the spectrum stands Bhutan, where smoking is illegal regardless of how old you are.


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