• Germany edition
 
Opinion
'Germany should raise smoking age to 21'
Photo: DPA

'Germany should raise smoking age to 21'

Published: 05 Nov 2013 13:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Nov 2013 13:19 GMT+01:00

Berlin Christian Democrat (CDU) politician Cornelia Seibeld told regional newspaper the BZ this week that Germany should follow New York's lead and increase the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21.

“We need to curb nicotine addiction among young people” said Seibeld, citing figures showing that it was more common for German youngsters to be addicted to cigarettes than alcohol.

Raising the legal smoking age could help put a cap on this, as by the time they reach 21 people are “more aware of the health consequences of their behaviour,” she told the BZ.

Spatz agreed, and told The Local that Germany should indeed “look to New York for a positive role model” for dissuading young smokers. “If a person starts under the age of 21 they are more likely to become addicted,” he said, echoing Seibeld's argument.

The anti-smoking campaigner admitted that he knew that Germany was still a long way from stubbing out its love affair with tobacco. “The tobacco business has a stronghold in Germany as it's an industry-friendly country,” he said.

And as one of the world's leading exporters of cigarettes, Germany should first change what he described as the “cuddling up between the government and tobacco companies.” As it stands, the two are too close for change to be feasible, Spatz believes.

Yet even though Germany is still considered relatively smoke-tolerant within Europe, the past decade has seen the beginnings of change, with a ban on smoking in the workplace introduced in 2007 - which included most bars and restaurants.

Since then the country has seen 10 percent drop in strokes and heart attacks, according to research from the German Cancer Research Centre. But the ban is being implemented patchily, with different federal states imposing different rules, and many bars banning under-18s and declaring themselves havens for smokers.

“Go in a bar or disco, and it's horrible,” said Spatz.

The 2007 reform also raised the legal smoking age to 18 and since then the number of young smokers has, Spatz said, continued to drop. Banning smoking on school grounds also saw numbers pushed down and “There are studies which show clearly that it is no longer cool," he suggested.

“The number of young people smoking has dropped by 28 percent since 2001, basically because they can't” he said, adding that “over the past ten years the number of cigarettes being made per year has dropped from 150 billion to 80 billion.”

But the fact that Germany is one of only two countries in the EU – the other being Bulgaria – that still allows tobacco companies to advertise, is a problem that needs to be addressed alongside trying to push up the legal limit.

This “grouped measures” approach – both banning advertising and introducing a 21 age-limit – could be the key to de-normalising smoking, something that Spatz suggested “could change under the new coalition,” he said.

As for fears that more teenagers would smoke illegally - and buy counterfeit cigarettes from smugglers if they were banned from buying their smokes in the shops , Spatz dismissed the idea.

“This is a standard argument from tobacco companies,” he said. “There has been very little increase in illegal cigarette trade since the age limit was raised in 2007.”

What do you think? Registered users of The Local may add their comments in the field below. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here – it’s free and only takes a moment.

READ MORE: Germany bans Marlboro 'Maybe' ads

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Jessica Ware (jessica.ware@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Netflix to launch in Germany in September
Laverne Cox, star of Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Photo: EPA/PETER FOLEY

Netflix to launch in Germany in September

Netflix revealed plans on Monday to launch in Germany in September this year, bringing the popular movie and TV streaming service to one of the world’s biggest markets. READ  

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia
An armed separatist walks past the bodybags of victims of the MH17 crash. Photo: EPA/IGOR KOVALENKO

Steinmeier: We'll raise pressure on Russia

Germany's foreign minister said Monday the EU will "raise the pressure" on Russia over the Ukraine crisis following the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 with a suspected missile. READ  

No foreigner road toll for German borders?
Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (l) and Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer are fighting over the "foreigner toll". Photo: DPA

No foreigner road toll for German borders?

Bavaria’s interior minister has called for German border regions to be exempt from a controversial project to charge foreigners to use the country’s roads, sparking a row within his own party. READ  

German Jews condemn 'explosion of hate'
Pro-Palestine demonstration in Berlin on July 12th. Photo:DPA

German Jews condemn 'explosion of hate'

The American Jewish Committee in Berlin has filed a complaint with the city's police about anti-Semitic slogans being chanted at pro-Palestine rallies, while Germany's Jewish community on Monday condemned an "explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews". READ  

Aldi founder Karl Albrecht dies aged 94
Karl Albrecht. Photo: Aldi Süd/DPA

Aldi founder Karl Albrecht dies aged 94

Karl Albrecht, one of the co-founders of the German discount supermarket chain Aldi and one of the country's richest men, has died aged 94, Aldi announced on Monday. READ  

Spy Scandal
Typewriter manufacturers see boom in sales
The secure desk of the future? Photo: DPA

Typewriter manufacturers see boom in sales

German typewriter manufacturers are enjoying a boom in sales following the NSA spying scandal. A German defence manufacturer switched to typewriters last year, while last week a leading politician called for the government to use the old technology. READ  

At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave
Lifeguards try to rescue a man on the beach in Ückeritz in northern Germany on Sunday. Photo: DPA

At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave

UPDATE: A US student and an eight-year-old boy are among at least 18 swimmers to have died since Friday as bathers try to cool off in a heatwave which has brought highs of 36C to Germany. READ  

Tantric massage subject to sex tax - court

Tantric massage subject to sex tax - court

Tantric massages provide sexual pleasure and are subject to the same tax levied on brothels and swinger clubs in a German city, a court ruled on Monday. READ  

JobTalk Germany
Germany lags rivals in innovation rankings
A solar energy control panel. Photo: DPA

Germany lags rivals in innovation rankings

Germany lags its rivals when it comes to innovation, according to global rankings. But in other measures it leads Europe in technological progress. How innovative is the country really? READ  

Tributes paid to German victims of MH17
Photo: DPA

Tributes paid to German victims of MH17

Four German citizens were among the 298 who died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. The women had all moved to different parts of the world to pursue their dreams. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Joachim Löw: A career in pictures
Photo: Submitted
Society
Is this expat cat the world's oldest?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
National
Heatwave to bring highs of 36C to Germany
Photo: Daniel Biskup
Gallery
Happy 60th Birthday, Chancellor Merkel
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Should Germany follow France and ban the burqa?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
World Cup winners welcomed home - in pictures
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Photo: obs/AXE Unilever Deutschland
Gallery
The wives and girlfriends of Germany's football stars
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,239
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd