Junior health minister Martin van Rijn confirmed on Friday he plans to introduce legislation to increase the legal age to buy tobacco from 16 to 18.
Van Rijn told Nos television the measure will support parents and schools in efforts to stop children picking up the habit. It is not clear when the higher age limit will come into effect.
Earlier this month, several large tobacco organisations called on the government to increase the age limit to 18, in line with plans for the alcoholic drinks industry.
Bars and cafes
The number of smokers in the Netherlands will rise to 26.2% of the adult population by the end of this year because of government policy, anti-smoking group Stivoro said in early November.
Efforts by anti-smoking campaigners to reinstate a smoking ban in small cafes and bars failed earlier this year when judges in The Hague ruled the law does allow exceptions.
Health minister Edith Schippers relaxed the ban in 2010 so that bars smaller than 70m2 with no staff did not have to comply.
However, the ban is widely flouted in other establishments. Anti-smoking campaigners estimate smoking continues in around half the country’s clubs and bars.
Schippers has been widely criticised by health campaigners for being too lax about combating smoking and not employing enough inspectors.
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