The introduction in 1996 of a ban on the sale of tobacco to persons under the age of 18 in Norway does not seem to have reduced the extent of smoking among minors. One reason may be that Norway's 20,000 tobacconists have not respected the age limit. A representative sample of households was randomly selected from a database containing all telephone numbers in Norway. Of the 6,135 households contacted, 2,054 households contained young people aged 13 to 20 years. Of these, 1,011 persons participated in the telephone survey. 75% of the tobacco smoked by 13-17-year-olds is bought by the minors themselves or by other minors. 70% of smokers under the age of 18 report not being asked how old they were when they bought or tried to buy tobacco. Only 48% had been denied purchase of tobacco during the last three months. The systematic anti-smoking efforts being instituted in the schools would be much more effective if they were backed up by the tobacconists through effective enforcement of the 18-year age limit for the purchase of tobacco.
Comment On: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1999 Oct 20;119(25):372110574043