The government has launched a three-month consultation where three options will be considered for England and Wales - raising the limit to 17 or 18, or leaving it at 16 where it has stood since 1908. The consultation will also consider handing tougher penalties to retailers who repeatedly sell tobacco to underage children.
The ACS has stressed that retailers will need significant support to enforce any change. ACS government relations manager Shane Brennan told C-Store: "While we do not have a view on the legal age itself, we will be talking to the government about any transition which will have an effect on retailers.
"The government needs to be absolutely clear in its communication and retailers are going to have to be very clear about how the law has changed. We would be extremely concerned if the government opted for an overnight change."
Roy Latham, who runs a Spar store in Llandloes, Powys, believes the way to ensure stores stay on the right side of the law is to introduce a strict ID policy for both tobacco and alcohol. He said: "It might be easier if there was just one age for the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes but our policy means we check anyone who looks under 21. Even if the law changes retailers will still have to deal with underage attempts to buy cigarettes."