15 November 2018

Olena Drozdova points out three issues of increasing legal age for selling cigarettes and alcoholic beverages

The legal age limit for purchasing cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in Ukraine can be raised from 18 to 21 years old. Relevant bill No. 8437 has been brought before the Ukrainian Parliament.

SEGODNYA newspaper asked Olena Drozdova, Deputy Chair of the Committee on Medical and Pharmaceutical Law and Bioethics of the Ukrainian National Bar Association and the director of Drozdova & Partners Law Firm, to comment on what is the difference between legal ages for selling alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.

According to the expert, the proposal to increase the legal age seems to be reasonable from a health care perspective. However, the issue concerns the feasibility of compliance with the legal provisions.

‘Yet the sale of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes to minors is prohibited, they ultimately managed to try them anyway at least once. Although the State Fiscal Service applies many penalties to the points of sale, this has never changed the patterns of alcoholic and cigarettes consumption by teens,’ the Drozdova & Partners Law Firm director says. The expert is of the opinion that sellers themselves will hardly comply with the new restriction if it is introduced.

‘First, not all sellers ask purchasers to produce documents and rely primarily on a person’s appearance. Second, the sale of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes to minors is the essential source of income for certain points of sale. Third, it is difficult to control and prove offences, because not every shop has security cameras. And, finally, corruption, which is inevitable. Law enforcement officers often remain blind to such cases and create an illusion of impunity,’ she explains.

Therefore, the increase in the legal age should be accompanied with the introduction of control mechanisms: to introduce a requirement requesting that security cameras be installed inside the points of sale of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages; to check more thoroughly the activities of the points of sale; and to request that they file reports and provide explanations. In addition, penalty levels should be increased, and conditions for obtaining licenses should be toughened. Only in that case the society will benefit from the increase in the legal age.