Minimum Legal Ages for
Smoking and Purchase of Tobacco
Around the World

Minimum Smoking Age : MSA
Minimum Purchasing Age : MPA

Country MSA MPA Legislation

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*The minimum age to purchase tobacco is regulated by law and is currently 16; the Province of Buenos Aires became the first to pass legislation forbidding the sale of cigarettes to those under the age of 18 (April 1997).[Local regulations regarding minimum age to purchase cigarettes]
*Advertising directed to young people is prohibited. Low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes may not be represented as beneficial to health. Advertising can not be associated with physical activity or sports, but this does not include the sponsorship of sports events.[Law No. 23.344 of 31 July 1986 on restrictions on the advertising of tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and other products intended for smoking and their packaging.]

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*Warnings not applicable to point of sale material; three warnings to be used in rotation: "smoking damages your health","smoking during pregnancy can damage your child's health","protect your children from tobacco smoke".[Requirement for on-pack warnings (effective 1982) & Modifications to onpack warnings (effective September 1992)]
*Advertising Restrictions: Well-known persons, sportsmen and young people aged 30 and under should not be used in advertising. Smoking may not be called "healthy".
18 Law banning the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 years of age. #2
15 Minimum age to purchase is 15 years.[Juvenile Smoking Act,1993]
*Ban on the sponsorship of sporting and cultural events by tobacco companies.
18 Minimum age to purchase is 18 years.[Legislation for a minimum age of purchase] #2

*Prohibits the sale of tobacco products via automatic vending machines, with the exception of vending machines installed in premises where such tobacco products are sold in the traditional way.[Crown Order of 13 August 1990 on the manufacture and marketing of tobacco-based products and similar products] #2

*Persons inhaling or exhaling cigarette smoke, adolescents, pregnant women, children, may not be shown in ads.[Regulations of 15 March 1982 on the use of tobacco] #2
and Herzegovina

15 *Place of Sale:Less than 300 meters from schools is prohibited.[Law on the Prohibition of Tobacco Products Use, Article 12] #1
16 [Part II, Sec. 12(1)] #1
18 Bans the sale of tobacco to minors under 18 years; restricts distribution of free samples[Order No. 731 of 31 May 1990] #2
18 [The Tobacco and Tobacco Products Act,Sec.30(2);Law on Public Health,Sec.58(3)]
*Place of Sale: Ban on sales within 200 metres of schools and health establishments.

18 Smoking is forbidden in working conditions where certain harmful occupational factors would combine with smoking to create especially high health risks, in workplaces with non-smokers, workplaces with pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.[Ordinance No. 2 on health requirements in connection with smoking, 1974] #2
Burkina Faso

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* The federal Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act (TSYPA), which came into force February 8, 1994, prohibits the sale of tobacco products in Canada to persons under the age of 18. The federal legislation is meant to reinforce, but not limit or restrict, provincial sales-to-minors legislation regarding tobacco products. Indeed, certain provinces, namely Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia, have increased the legal age for the purchase of tobacco products to 19. #A
Cape Verde

*Prohibits tobacco use in health establishments, pharmacies, libraries, gyms and places for minors under 16 years; areas designated for smoking can not include places where youth or pregnant/nursing women have access.[Law No. 119/IV/95 defining the conditions for dissuading and restricting tobacco consumption (passed on 10 February 1995, effective 27 February 1995)] #2

Prohibition of tobacco advertising in publications designated for minors under 18 years. It is prohibited to offer, distribute, or give free of charge tobacco products to children under 16 years of age (in public places).[Ley 19419 (Fecha de Publicacion 09.10.1995, Fecha de Promulgacion 22.09.1995) Ministerio de Salud] #2
? Sales/Distribution of Cigarettes to minors of school age is prohibited.[China's Law to Prevent Crimes by Minors, Item 15] #1

? Prohibits smoking by elementary and secondary school students.[Law of 29 June 1991 on the exclusive sale of tobacco of the People’s Republic of China] #2
Hong Kong
(special administrative
region of China)

18 Sales/Distribution of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco to minors is prohibited [CAP. 371, Part IVA 15A]
Vending Machines:Ban [CAP. 371, Part III 8B]
(special administrative
region of China)

18 [LAW No.10/97/M 1st-A Article Sec.1] #1
(province of China)

18 [Art.12]
*Vending Machines:Restricted[Art.5]

18 *Tobacco dealers shall not supply tobacco products to minors under 18 years.
*Completely prohibits tobacco company sponsorship of sporting and cultural activities.
*Prohibits automatic vending machines, mail orders, electronic shopping or any other channels through which the age of the tobacco purchaser cannot be verified.[The Tobacco Hazards Control Law (dated 4 March 1997)]
15 Mandates cigarettes or tobacco may be dispensed only to persons aged 15 and older. [Ley 30 January 1986,"The National Intoxication Statute"]
*Advertising allowed on television between 2300 and 0600 and is limited to 30 seconds for each brand; commercial advertising must devote 20% of transmission time to the warning "tobacco is harmful to health".[Resolution No. 4063 of 1982 regulating Decree No. 3430 of 26 November concerning restrictions on advertising]
Congo, Republic of

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Cook Islands
15 *Signage Required.[Tobacco Products Control Act(No.3)1987 Sec.6] #1
Costa Rica
18 Sale of cigarettes to minors (younger than age 18 years) is prohibited.[Decree No.17967-S of 4 February 1988]
* Packs of cigarettes manufactured in Costa Rica must bear one of the following warnings:"Smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus and may provoke premature birth" or "Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema"[Decree 18,780-S,1989]
18 *Signage Required.[The Law on the Restricted Use of Tobacco Products, Article 7]
*Vending Machines:Ban[The Law on the Restricted Use of Tobacco Products, Article 8]
16 Ministry of Commerce Resolution banning the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 16. #2
18 It is an offence to supply tobacco to persons under 18 years of age.
* Makes it an offence for any person to have under his supervision or in his possession any automatic tobacco vending machine.[The Health Protection (Smoking Control) Law of 1980]
* Selling tobacco products and advertising to minors under 18 is prohibited.[The Protection of Health (Control of Smoking) Law (Latest update 1995)]
Czech Republic
16 [Law 37/1989 of the Czech National Council of March 28, 1989 on the Protection Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Sec.4(1)(e)]

* Health warnings must occupy 10% of the advertising space and 4% of pack surface areas. [Requirements introduced in April 1998] #2

Bans smoking in all Ministry of Health workplaces and in meetings of public councils, boards, and commissions unless all participants agree to permit smoking.[Circular of 23 March 1988 of the Ministry of Health on the provision of nonsmoking environments on public premises, means of transport, etc]
* Agreement applies to all tobacco products, including cigarette paper and tubes;Bans the use of models, actresses or actors appearing to be under 30 years, celebrities, health personnel, and sports personalities in ads; press advertising is restricted to a single page not exceeding [Code of practice between the tobacco industry and the government (latest update in 1992)]
Dominican Republic
16 Prohibition of the sale and supply of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products to minors under age 16.[Law Number 272] #2

Prohibits the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol inside and around all schools (at all educational levels) by staff and students. [Law No. 2369 of the Ministry of Education and Culture] #2
El Salvador

Ban on cigarette sales to minors.[Decree No. 955 of 11 May 1988 promulgating the Health Code (Division 41-(Secs.196-190))] #2
18 [Tobacco Act,Chapter 2,Sec.17(1)(1)]
*Place of Sale:prohibited in health care institutions, education institutions, and sports establishments [Tobacco Act, Chapter 2,Sec.17(1)(5)]

16 Minimum age to purchase tobacco set at 16 years.[Governmental Decree 1996] #2
18 [Tobacco Control Act of 1998 Sec. 10]
*Vending Machines:Restricted to places where minors are not permitted.[Tobacco Control Act of 1998 Sec.11(2)(a)]
18 [Act on the Measures to Reduce Tobacco Smoking, Sec.10]
*Vending Machines:Restricted to restaurants that are licensed to sell alcohol and sales outlets that apply for a permit and continiously supervise the machine's operation.[Decree on the Measure to Reduce Tobacco Smoking, Sec.12; Act on the Measures to Reduce Tobacco Smoking,Sec.11]

Children under 16 can not smoke in schools. [The Evin Law (passed in November 1992, effective 1 January 1993)]
* Smoking prohibited in schools receiving children under 16.[Law No. 76-616 of 9 July 1976 concerning measures to combat smoking (Loi Veil)]
* Forbids vending machines outside tobacco shops.[Directive 2 K-1-89 of 19 December 1988 (approved 19 December 1988,effective 21 November 1989)]

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Restricts the sale of tobacco to teenagers.[Law of Georgia on Health Care: Chapter XIII: Protection of Population’s Health from Harmful Influence of Excessive Consumption of Tobacco, Alcohol, Incorrect Use of Permitted Medicines and Use of Prohibited Medicines (dated 10 December 1997)] #2
Germany 16
The Protection of Young Persons in Public Act states that children and young people under 16 years of age shall not be permitted to smoke in public. [Law on the protection of juveniles in public (version dated 27 July 1957)]
* Ban on television and radio advertising; ban on advertisements which create the impression that the consumption or the proper use of tobacco products is harmless to health, likely to have a favorable effect on the functioning of the body and physical performance, likely to induce juveniles or adolescents to smoke, make it appear that inhaling of tobacco smoke is something to be imitated, or suggest that tobacco products are natural or pure. [Law of 15 August 1974 for the overall reform of foodstuffs law]
* No advertising elements typical to the environment of young people, media stars, sports personalities, or models under 30 years. Limits the use of the terms "mild" and "light". [Voluntary Restrictions on Advertising]

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18 Prohibits the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age. [Minimum age to purchase tobacco products] #2
18 [The Law on the Protection of the Rights of Non-Smokers and on the Prevention of Health Damage Related to Smoking, Sec. 2, version b]
*Place of Sale:Prohibited within 200 meters of schools and health care units.[The Law on the Protection of the Rights of Non-Smokers and on the Prevention of Health Damage Related to Smoking, Sec. 2]
*Vending Machines:Restricted
18 18 Children under 18 should not smoke anywhere (even in the places where smoking is allowed). Tobacco cannot be sold to minors under 18 years or distributed as free samples.[The New Tobacco Act (submitted to Parliament in 1996, passed in April 1999, effective November 1999)] #2
16 No sales to minors under 16.
* Ban on vending machines.
* No tobacco sales in schools or institutions for minors.
* Prohibits smoking in schools, day nurseries, in buildings intended for social and leisure activities of children under 16, and health centers. [Law No.74 of 28 May 1984 on the prevention of the use of tobacco]

*Vending Machines: Restricted to certain places that are not accessible to children.(Cigarettes,Cigars,Bidis)[Regulation Number 81, Article 16; Elucidation on the Government Regulation Number 81 of Year 1999, Article 16]
(Islamic Republic of)

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16 Bans sale of tobacco to children under 16. [The Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Act,1988] #2

Prohibits printed advertisements from including names, appellations or photos of celebrities, persons under 40 years, persons in uniform and persons in sport dress or bathing suits. [Tobacco Products for Smoking (Restriction on Advertising) Law, 5743-1983] #2
16 It is illegal to sell or give tobacco products to children under the age of 16. [Article 730 of the Penal Code] #2

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Japan 20 20 [Law (No. 134 of 2000) on Prohibition of Smoking by Minors, Article 4]
Vending Machines: Restricted from areas where minors have access.[Tobacco Industry Law (No. 618 of 1984) of Japan, Article 23(3); Tobacco Industry Law Enforcement Regulations (Ministerial Ordinance No.5 of 1985), Article 20(3)]
* Advertising must not encourage adolescents and or women to smoke. Prohibits the use of teenage idols, pop stars or models appearing to be under 25 years old, and personalities. Women appearing in commercials can not be depicted smoking. [Restrictions on advertising, effective 1985]
* Reduces television advertising, sets controls on operating times for vending machines, increases cigarette prices and restricts smoking in various places; television advertising must carry warnings. [1995 Code under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in response to WHO requests for anti-smoking programs]
* Stops all television and radio advertising of tobacco products. Prohibits advertising via other electronic broadcast media, including cinema and the Internet. Prohibits street sampling campaigns and restricts sales promotion to event sites, tobacco retailers, and bars where minors are not permitted. Allows newspaper, magazine, and billboard advertising, subject to the restrictions already laid down. [Voluntary Agreement the Tobacco Institute of Japan and its members (agreement date October 1997, effective April 1998)]

Bans the sale of toys and sweets that imitate cigarettes and encourage smoking. [Rules No.64 of 10 August 1977 on the protection of public health against the hazards of smoking] #2
18 Prohibits sales to individuals under 18. [Anti-tobacco Bill/Tobacco Control Bill (1999-2000?)] #2
21 [Law No. 15 of 1995 on Smoking Control, Article 3] #1

21 Prohibits selling or offering cigarettes and all types of tobacco to any person below 21 years of age. [Law No. 15 of 17 May 1995 on the control of tobacco consumption] #2
Lao People's
Democratic Republic

18 Ban on sale to minors under 18 years of age. #2
18 Bans cigarette vending machines; prohibits the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. [On Tobacco Products Manufacture, Sales, Advertising And Smoking Restrictions (approval date 18 December 1996, effective date 1 January 1997)] #2
18 [Low on Tobacco Control, Article 10 (8)]
*Place of Sale:prohibited in pharmacies, health care institutions, educational institutions, and retail enterprises where 50% or more of the goods available are intended for children[Law on Tobacco Control, Article 10]
*Vending Machines:Restricted[Law on Tobacco Control, Article 10]

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Prohibits industry from sponsoring events for children. Prohibits smoking in hospitals, waiting rooms of physicians and dentists, pharmacies, educational establishments, places that receive or house persons under 16 years of age. [Law of 24 March 1989 restricting the advertising of tobacco and tobacco products and prohibiting smoking in certain places] #2

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18 [Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 1993, P.U.(A)383 Sec.IV]
*Vending Machines:Restricted[Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 1993, P.U.(A) 383 Sec.IV]
16 [Measures Taken to Reduce the Use of Tobacco,Sec.5] #1
16 [Tobacco (Smoking Control) Act 1986,Sec.14(1)] #1

*Prohibited but age is not indicated[Public Health (Restrictions on Tobacco Products) Regulations 1999, Sec. 2(e)(i)] #1

18 Must be 18 years old to purchase cigarettes.
18 Minimum age to purchase cigarettes is 18. [The General Law on Health (dated 26 December 1983) (Sections 275-277 and 308-309)] #2
16 [Law of Mongolia on the Struggle Against the Dangers of Tobacco Art 5 Sec.1.(2)] #1
16 [Prohibition of the Possession of Tobacco by Children Ordinance 1924, No.7/1924, Sec.2] #1
18 Prohibition on the sale of tobacco products to individuals under 18 years of age. #2
New Zealand
18 [Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 Act, Sec.30.(1)]
*Vending Machines:Restricted to places where access to minors is lawfully prohibited.[Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990, Sec.30.(4)(a)]

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18 [Act Relating to the Prevention of the Harmful Effects of Tobacco, Act No.14, Sec.5]
*Vending Machines:Ban[Act Relating to the Prevention of the Harmful Effects of Tobacco, Act No.14,Sec.5]
*Sale of imitation tobacco products is prohibited.

Minimum age to purchase tobacco self-imposed by distributors and retailers (18 years). #2
19 [RPPL 4-25 Sec.4(1)]
*Vending Machines:Banned[RPPL 4-25 Sec.4(3);Regulations Governing Sale of Tobacco Products Sec.4(d)]
Papaua New Guinea
18 A person shall not sell or hand over tobacco products to a person who is or apparently is under the age of 18 years, including imitations of tobacco products. [The Tobacco Products (Health Control) Act 1987] #2
18 Prohibition of cigarette and tobacco sales to persons under 18 years of age.["STOP for Health Act"(Stop Tobacco and Other Products for Health)] #2
18 Minors under 18 can not buy tobacco products. [Law of 9 November 1995 on the protection of health against the effects of the consumption of tobacco and tobacco products] #2
Portugal 18 18 Minimum age for purchase and consumption of tobacco is 18. Ban on vending machine distribution.
Republic of Korea
19 [Law No.4914 Sec.9]
*Vending Machines:Restricted[Law No.4914 Sec.9]
18 Ban on sale of tobacco to minors(less than 18 years of age), 1999. #2

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18 [Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) (Licensing) Regulations 1998, Sec.5(2)(b); Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) Act 1993 (No.10), Sec.10]
*Sec. 15(1) bans the sale of imitation tobacco products (candy and toys).
18 [Law on Protection of Non-Smokers, Sec.6(3)]
*Vending Machines:Ban[Law on Protection of Non-Smokers, Sec. 6(2)(c)]
15 [Restriction on the Use of Tobacco Products Act, Sec.14]
*Vending Machines:Ban[Restriction on the Use of Tobacco Products Act, Sec.14]
Solomon Islands
18 [Solomon Islands Tobacco Products Control Act, Sec.12(1)]
*Vending Machines:Ban[Solomon Islands Tobacco Products Control Act,Sec.13]
South Africa
16 [Tobacco Products Control Act 83 of 1993, Sec.4(1)]
*Vending Machines:Restricted to places where minors are not allowed access.[Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act of 1999,Sec.8(a)]
16 [Royal Decree 192/1988 of March 4 Regarding Limitations in the Sale and Use of Tobacco to Protect the Health of the Population, Article 5, Sec.1]
*Place of Sale:banned in places where smoking is prohibited; banned in public schools; banned in health establishments[Royal Decree 1199/1999 of Implementing Law 13/1998, Article 32, Sec. 1 and Law 13/1998 of May 4 on Tobacco Trade and Tax Legislation, Article 4, Sec. 9; Order of November 7, 1989, Ministry of Education and Science, Article 1; Royal Decree 192/1988 of March 4 Rega]
*Vending Machines:restricted to enclosed places; minors' use is prohibited[Royal Decree 192/1988 of March 4 Regarding Limitations in the Sale and Use of Tobacco to Protect the Health of the Population, Article 4, Sec.2; Article 5, Sec.2]
Sri Lanka
16 Selling cigarettes to minors under 16 is prohibited. [Children and Young Persons Ordinance, Section 76]
* Ban on smoking by teachers in schools and sending children to purchase tobacco products. [Circular sent by the Director General of Health Services (no : E.C.F/3/92) on 17 May 1993]
18 [The Swedish Tobacco Act, Sec.12] #1
18 Minimum age for purchasing tobacco is 18. [Presidential Decree No.13 of September 1996] #2
18 [Tobacco Products Control Act, BE 2535, Sec.4]
*Vending Machines:Ban[Tobacco Products Control Act, BE 2535, Sec.5]
The Former
Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia

16 [Law on Protection Against Smoking (Tobacco Law), Article 5]
18 [Tobacco Control Act 2000, Sec.9(1)]
*Vending Machines:restricted to places where persons under 18 years of age are prohibited[Tobacco Control Act 2000, Sec.10(1)]
Trinidad and Tobago
16 Prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under 16. [An Act relating to the protection of children and young persons, industrial schools, and orphanages, and juvenile offenders (the Children Act), Chap. 46:01, Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, 17 March 1925] #2

Bans vending machines. [Law No. 98-17 of 23 February 1998 on the prevention of the damage caused by tobacco consumption] #2
18 [The Law on the Prevention of Harm Induced by Tobacco Products, Law No. 4207, Article 3] #1
18 Minimum age to purchase 18 years. [Legislation for a minimum age to purchase tobacco products] #2
United Arab Emirates
18 Ban on cigarette sales to individuals under 18 years of age. [Amendment to the article related to tobacco taxation in the Federal law] #2
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland

16 It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 16. [The Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991] #2
United States
of America

18* Age 18 for states to be eligible for federal grants.[42 USC Sec. 300x-26 (a)(1)] #1

18 No retailer may sell cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to any person younger than 18 years of age; for individuals under 27 years of age, retailers shall verify age by means of photographic identification. [FDA Regulation, Section 897.14, 1998] #2
18 Prohibits sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age. [Law No. 15.361 of 24 December 1982 adopting provisions on the advertising and marketing of cigarettes, cigars, and tobacco products] #2
Viet Nam
16 Businesses will not be permitted to operate cigarette vending machines, or sell tobacco to children under 16. [Government Circular(Ministry of Trade) dated 9 September 1999 (taking effect 90 days later)] #2


#1 National Tobacco Information Online System(NATIONS)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
#2 Tobacco Control Country Profiles
The 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
The American Cancer Society, INC. Atlanta, Georgia
#A Health Canada

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(Page created 2002)



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