New mobile app to combat underage smoking and drinking in Denmark

Illegal sales of tobacco products and booze to teenagers have been increasingly in the news and surveys have shown it is very easy to buy these products underage

The problem of underage teenagers buying cigarettes and booze might soon be a thing of the past.

Fourteen different players from different sectors such as business, trade unions, interest organisations and producers have combined their efforts to launch a new mobile app called Smart ID, which can be presented by the purchaser to verify their age.

The idea is to come up with a solution to the illegal sale of these products to minors, Susanne Mørch Koch, the administrative director of Danske Spil, one of the developers of the app, explained to DR Nyheder.

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“I hope it will become more customary to be asked your age in a shop and that we can agree that children should not be allowed to buy adult-exclusive products,” Koch added.

A recent series of articles in Politiken has highlighted just how easy it is for underage children to buy cigarettes. Nearly all of the shops concerned sold tobacco products to the test persons without checking any ID.

Shops happy to help
De Samvirkende Købmænd, an organisation representing a large number of shops, kiosks and petrol stations, is happy to co-operate on the initiative. Many shops experience a negative reaction when people are asked their age.

“If a cashier is repeatedly berated for just doing their job and asking for ID, then it could well be that they don’t ask in the future. We have to do something about that,” Claus Bøgelund, the vice director of the organisation, said.

Action from the authorities also needed
The Danish Cancer Society is also happy to see some focus on the problem. Its project director Niels Them Kjær, who is involved in tobacco limitation programs, is happy that something is being done, but is sceptical as to whether it will have the desired result without the campaign being followed by concrete action.

“Now we just need shops to start asking young people their ages, but they’ve promised to do that before. We also need the authorities to get involved, and I think we will probably have to start fining shops that break the law,” he said.

Under-18s are not permitted to buy tobacco products in Denmark, although there is no law prohibiting them from smoking.