Doctors are to vote on whether to push for a permanent ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after the year 2000 in an attempt to protect the next generation of children from the deadly effects of smoking.

If the motion is passed at the British Medical Association’s annual representatives’ meeting on Tuesday, the doctors union will lobby the government to implement the policy in the same way it successfully pushed for a ban on lighting up in public places and on smoking in cars carrying children, after votes in 2002 and 2011.

Tim Crocker Buque, a specialist registrar in public health medicine, who proposed the motion, said the idea was that “the 21st century generation don’t need to suffer the hundreds of millions of deaths that the 20th century generation did”.

“Cigarette smoking is specifically a choice made by children that results in addiction in adulthood, that is extremely difficult to give up,” he said. “80% of people who smoke start as teenagers. It’s very rare for people to make an informed decision in adulthood. The idea of this proposal is to prevent those children who are not smoking from taking up smoking.”

In 2012, 23% of pupils in England aged 11 to 15 had tried smoking at least once, according to official figures, although the proportion has been decreasing since 1996, when it was 46%. Of current smokers or those who smoked regularly at some point in their life, 66% said they had started smoking before they were 18. The age at which someone can be legally sold cigarettes rose from 16 to 18 in 2007.

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, said steps to tackle the 100,000 lives a year lost to smoking should continue and described the proposal as an interesting idea.

“There are more than 10 million smokers in the UK, and it’s just not practical to ban smoking. But we do want to encourage and support smokers to quit, and to do all we can to stop children from starting in the first place.”

Similar proposals have been put forward in Singapore and in Tasmania, Australia, where, in 2012, the upper house passed a ban on selling cigarettes to anyone born after 2000 but it has not been passed by the lower house.

Simon Clark, the director of the smokers’ group Forest, argued that criminals would simply take over the supply of cigarettes to people who could not buy them legally.

“We already have legislation designed to stop children smoking. Enforce those laws and ban proxy purchasing,” he said. “The idea that free thinking adults could be barred from buying cigarettes because of the year in which they’re born is both preposterous and discriminatory. It’s arbitrary, unenforceable and completely illiberal.”

A spokesman for the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association described the proposal as “a poorly thought through tobacco control measure. The BMA should reject this nonsensical measure and instead focus on measures likely to reduce young people’s access to tobacco.”

The motion proposed by Crocker Buque was passed at the BMA’s public health conference in February.

Lawstuff australia – know your rights – – topics – cigarettes

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It is against the law for anyone to sell cigarettes to you if you are under 18. This includes herbs and other things that are smoked, even if they do not contain tobacco. Anyone who sells cigarettes to someone under 18 can be heavily fined.

It is also against the law for someone else to buy cigarettes for you. Anyone who does can be fined.

Do I have to show ID?

You cannot be forced to show ID in a shop. But if you don t, the shop keeper probably won t sell you cigarettes. Valid ID includes

  • a current drivers license or

  • a valid proof of age card (including NSW Photo cards) or

  • a current passport.

It is against the law to use a fake ID to buy cigarettes. You can be fined for doing so, and the police may confiscate the ID. For more information see our Fake ID page.

Can police confiscate my cigarettes if I am under 18?

If you are in a public place, the police can confiscate your cigarettes, or other smoking products (even if they don t contain tobacco) if they think you are under 18. You will probably be asked for ID first. Most places other than someone s house are public places. Anything confiscated from you will not be returned.

Where can I smoke?

In New South Wales, it s against the law to smoke in a smoke free area. Every enclosed public space is a smoke free area. Enclosed public places are places that are open to the public, have a roof, and are mostly surrounded by walls (even if there are doors or open passageways). This includes places you have to pay to enter (like a theatre).10

Some examples of places that are usually enclosed public places are

  • Shopping centres

  • Restaurants, cafes and dining areas

  • Pubs, clubs and bars (except designated smoking areas)

  • Schools, colleges and universities

  • Community centres, halls and churches

  • Theatres, libraries and galleries

  • Public transport (buses, trains, trams, aeroplanes, taxis, ferries)

  • Gyms and sporting facilities

  • Hospitals.

Certain types of outdoor public places are also smoke free areas. These include

  • Places near outdoor children s play equipment

  • Swimming pool complexes

  • Areas used for watching an organised sporting event (eg. a sports ground)

  • Platforms at train or light rail stations

  • Ferry wharves

  • Light rail stops

  • Bus stops

  • Taxi ranks

  • Near the entrance/exit of a building for pedestrians

If you are caught smoking in such a place, unless there was no simple way of knowing the place was a smoke free area, you may

  • be fined $300 on the spot by the police

  • be given a warning or

  • be given a formal caution or

  • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $550 if convicted).

Can I smoke when wearing my school uniform?

Some schools have rules about how you can behave when wearing school uniform. If your school has these kinds of rules, you may get in trouble for smoking in school uniform. For more information, ask your school for information about its uniform and smoking policies.

It is up to the police whether to give you a warning or a formal caution, but you can always choose to go to court instead.

Can I smoke in a car?

You cannot smoke in a car if there is someone younger than 16 years old in the car. If you are driving a car with someone younger than 16 inside, and anyone smokes in the car, you are also breaking the law.

If you are caught doing either, you can

  • be given a warning or

  • be given a formal caution or

  • be fined $250 on the spot by the police or

  • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $1,100 if convicted).

Additional information

For information about cigarettes and your health see


Alternatively, if you would like more detailed advice or have a specific problem, you can send us a Lawmail.

You are welcome to copy and use this fact sheet.

The content of this page was last updated on 11 November 2014