The Central government is considering increasing the age bar for tobacco use to 25 from the present 18. Union health secretary Lov Verma has said that “We’re now examining this suggestion, And we may write to state governments who have the authority to specify age limits for tobacco.”
The suggestion came on recent research suggesting that such restriction could reduce the number of people trying tobacco at younger ages. “This is obviously something worthwhile to consider. Medical studies have suggested that people who haven’t experimented with tobacco up to 21 years of age are unlikely to ever become tobacco users,” said Monika Arora, director of tobacco control at the Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi. Several studies have suggested that Indian youth n the age group of 15 to 24 are most susceptible to the use of tobacco and the proposed move could effectively control the vulnerable group.
Research on nicotine has shown that symptoms of addiction — strong urges to smoke, anxiety, irritability, and unsuccessful attempts to quit — may appear in young children within weeks after occasional smoking first begins and well before daily smoking has even started, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) said in a document published earlier this year.
The CTFK, an international non-government organisation, said that half of adult smokers had taken to regular, daily smoking before they turned 18, and 75 per cent had taken to regular daily smoking before they turned 21.
New York city has recently raised the age bar for tobacco buying from 18 to 21.