Ireland should consider raising the age at which a person can buy tobacco from 18 to 21, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Carlow/Kilkenny TD Pat Deering said: "Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and death in Ireland, with more than 5,900 people estimated to die from smoking each year according to the HSE.
"In the face of these startling figures we must do everything we can to deter people from taking up this habit.
"As we look to the US where vaping is an increasing problem among young people – something we must be alert to also – we see lawmakers have voted to raise the age at which a person can buy tobacco and related products to 21 from next year."
He added: "This is something I believe we should introduce here. If we can deter people from getting hooked on cigarettes and other tobacco products, then this is a win-win scenario.
"The figures have been going the right way for us here in Ireland, with the Healthy Ireland survey from 2019 showing that the prevalence of smoking has dropped from 23% in 2015 to 17% in 2019, which means there are now an estimated 165,000 fewer smokers here than there were five years ago."
"I have raised this issue with my colleague the Minister for Health Simon Harris, who confirmed that his department is aware of steps taken by some US States in relation to this issue and continues to keep all such measures under consideration.
"I would urge the Minister to actively look at this suggestion however and carry out a fact-finding mission to determine what effect this move would have on the numbers of young people smoking or using other tobacco related products here in Ireland," Deputy Deering concluded.