The government is considering raising the age at which people are allowed to buy cigarettes in England and Wales from 16 to 17 or 18.

A three-month consultation has started on raising the minimum age, and whether harsher penalties should be given to retailers who repeatedly sell tobacco to children.

Public health minister Caroline Flint said: “Smoking is dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely they are to become lifelong smokers and to die early.”