In Germany, the Youth Protection Act takes priority regarding alcohol and tobacco. This Act determines the age from which tobacco and alcohol may be consumed.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products can be purchased in the supermarket, at kiosks, in petrol stations and from cigarette machines. Tobacco products may not be consumed and purchased before the legal age, i.e. 18 years old. Cigarette machines are designed such that a minor cannot buy any products as an EC card (electronic cash card) or European driving licence is required as identification.
In general, smoking is not permitted in public buildings. Train stations, airports and other public spaces often have specially designated smoking areas. Most public bins are equipped with an ashtray on top so as to avoid the careless disposal of cigarette butts. Furthermore, smoking is forbidden in restaurants, pubs and clubs, and only permitted in the designated areas. In the last few years the number of smokers in Germany has declined dramatically, one reason being the high tax on cigarettes.
The purchase and consumption of beer, sparkling wine, wine and ready-mixed drinks made with beer or wine is permitted from the age of 16 in Germany. Spirits and other alcohol can be purchased and consumed from the age of 18. Alcohol is available in supermarkets, petrol stations and kiosks.
The possession, sale and consumption of narcotics (all substances excluding tobacco and alcohol) is forbidden in Germany and can be prosecuted under criminal law.