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Smokers, gear up. In addition to the proposed ban on public smoking, which will come into effect July 2007, the British government is considering// raising the age limit of smokers from 16 to 18 years.

Public health minister Caroline Flint announced that the move would start operating from October 2007. It would then be illegal to sell cigarettes to teenagers below 18 years.

This comes after 100 years of permitting sale of cigarettes to those over 16 years of age.

Flint plans to support her announcement with research showing that hundreds of teenagers who start smoking early end up as addicts and go on to develop or even die from smoking related ailments.

Every day an average Briton lights up 14 cigarettes and 450 children take to smoking.

Research has revealed that about 20% of Britain’s 15-year-olds (16% of boys and 25% of girls) are regular smokers.

In addition to the proposed bans, the tough drive against smoking will include the ’Hook’ Ad campaign. Smokers are shown dragged by a fishhook to their respective smoking joints. "Smoking is an addiction which makes quitting daunting and difficult.” says Flint. “But it is not just a habit, it is an addiction. The nicotine in cigarettes is a powerful and fast-acting drug which after entering a smoker's bloodstream, affects their brain.”

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