Asda retail director Andy Clarke said: 'Public opinion is changing in these areas and as a responsible retailer we felt we should be doing something. By raising the age limit to 18, not only are we helping to discourage teenage smoking, but also helping our colleagues who sometimes find it difficult to judge how old people are.'
The decision, which comes into force on September 1, follows the launch of a government consultation on proposals to crack down on teenage smoking. The Violent Crime Reduction Bill (2), which proposes increasing the age at which a person can be sold a knife to 18, is also going through the House of Lords.
The supermarket will also extend its Challenge 21 scheme to cover cigarettes and knives. Under the scheme, anyone who looks under 21 will be asked to produce identification. Challenge 21 already covers alcohol, fireworks and DVDs and computer games rated 18.
Asda is calling for other retailers, large and small, to adopt the same policies.