From http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6216523.stm The government is to raise the legal minimum age at which tobacco can be bought in England and Wales from 16 to 18 years from October. The move, announced by Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, will follow the introduction of a ban on smoking in public and work places later this year. The ban comes into place in Wales in April and England three months later. About 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds smoke and ministers hope the move will reduce this figure. However, experts warned other measures were also needed. Smoking is dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely they are to become life-long smokers and to die early Caroline Flint Public Health Minister The government argues that raising the legal age to 18 will make it easier for retailers to spot under-age smokers. Ministers also believe that bringing the legal age for the purchase of tobacco into line with that of alcohol will reinforce the dangers of smoking to young people. It will also bring England and Wales into line with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US. A recent survey suggested that only 23% of children aged under 16 who tried to buy tobacco found it difficult to do so. Evidence shows that nearly 70% of 11 to 15-year-old smokers say they buy their cigarettes from small shops such as newsagents and corner shops.