Want a puff? You’ll have to be 21 first if new tobacco law’s passed


Approximately 80 per cent of adult smokers become daily smokers before turning 21 years. 

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The minimum legal access age for tobacco and its products could increase to 21 years if parliament adopts proposed amendments to the law.

Currently, 18 years is the minimum age of access but the African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA), a lobby group, wants the Tobacco Control Act of 2007 amended to increase the age.

In a memorandum filed in both the National Assembly and the Senate, ACCPA executive chairman Mwangi Macharia says increasing the minimum age will help boost tobacco control.

“Delaying the onset of tobacco use is associated with several long-term health benefits. Not only does it reduce the number of life-years available for tobacco use but delays in onset are also associated with a higher probability of successful cessation efforts,” says Mr Macharia. ACCPA notes that, globally, more than 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking before attaining the age of 21. The lobby group further says that less than 50 percent of the adult smokers’ population attain daily smoking habits before 18 years while approximately 80 per cent become daily smokers before turning 21years.


The proposed amendments come as the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) in a recent report, revealed that children as young as four years are now using alcohol, tobacco and banned drugs.

More alarming is the fact that the children are able to access the drugs in schools, in what could be the biggest contributor to riots among other criminal behaviours.

“The longer a person uses tobacco, the higher the risk of developing severe health consequences that end up costing the government more than the benefits,” he says. Minimum age caps on tobacco use are meant to protect public health.

This is in light of conclusive scientific evidence implicating tobacco production, use and exposure to chronic diseases, disability and death. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the world, according to ACCPA.


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