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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

There is overwhelming medical evidence that smoking kills. Smoking is the main cause of premature death in Wales and smokers are far more likely to get cancer than people who do not smoke.

If you’re a parent trying to quit smoking – or you are trying to put off your children from starting smoking – think about some of these things:

  • It affects your general health, e.g. you might feel more out-of-breath when doing exercise than a non-smoker.
  • It makes your clothes and hair smell – it makes you smell.
  • Your second-hand smoke affects the health of people you love.
  • Cigarettes are expensive – all that money going up in smoke.
  • You become addicted over time.
  • You don’t want your children – or younger brothers or sisters – to take up smoking.

There is no safe level of tobacco use. Young people who smoke are strongly urged to stop by doctors.

The law on smoking

It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. The minimum age to smoke in public is 16 and the authorities have the duty to seize any tobacco or cigarette papers from a young person they believe to be under 16.

Smoking was banned in all public premises, workplaces and work vehicles in Wales in April 2007.

In March 2021, it became illegal to smoke in ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ places, including:

  • hospital and school grounds
  • public playgrounds
  • outdoor daycare and childminding settings

The smoking laws in Wales were extended again in March 2022, to ban smoking bedrooms in hotels, guesthouses, chalets, etc. and in all self-contained holiday accommodation, e.g. cottages, caravans, etc.

The reason for these laws is to save lives and prevent diseases caused by second-hand smoke.

There are very few exemptions to the smoking ban. If you are caught smoking in smoke-free premises you could be liable to a fixed penalty of £50. If you are prosecuted and found guilty, you could be fined up to £200.

Electronic cigarettes (Vaping)

Electronic or e-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that give users the sense they are smoking – they contain nicotine – but without the harmful products of burning tobacco. E-cigarettes can help smokers to quit, but they are not risk-free. Nicotine is addictive (and toxic in large doses) so they should not be avoided by children and young people.

It is also illegal to sell them to anyone under 18 and an offence to buy them on behalf of someone under 18, unless the specific e-cigarette is licensed as a medicine (most are not).

There is no law against vaping in public places; however, many employers, businesses and forms of public transport have banned it.

Illegal cigarettes

Illegal cigarettes are significantly cheaper than their legal counterparts and make it easier for children and young people to start smoking. Some are genuine products illegally smuggled into the UK, while others are manufactured specifically for the purpose of being smuggled into another country. If you suspect a child or young person is buying illegal cigarettes always report it.

Help to give up smoking

Many young people try to stop smoking on their own, but that’s the hardest (and least effective) way. Most smokers have a better chance of quitting permanently when they are supported.

Fortunately there is plenty of support out there.

Help Me Quit Wales makes it easier for young smokers to find the best NHS stop smoking support for them.

Last updated: 17/02/2023