What's new on 1 November?

The minimum age for youngsters to buy tobacco is lifted to 18 years, coming from 16. Belgium is the last European country to do so. 

  • The federal Chamber of Representatives had approved the measure last April. The new law is coming into force today. 16- and 17-year-olds in Belgium will no longer be able to purchase any tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes. Belgium is the last country in Europe to change legislation. The Scandinavian countries were the first in the 90ies, with most other European countries following in 2014. Luxembourg, Malta and Austria were the last ones to adapt. The ban applies to sales, not to the use of tobacco products. 

The Foundation  against Cancer (Stichting tegen Kanker) is happy with the move: "Youngsters' brains respond differently to tobacco than those of adults. For them, the nicotine is extra addictive. A 16-year-old girl who starts smoking can't do without nicotine after three months. For a 16-year-old boy this is six months. The measure comes late, but it's a good thing it's finally there. We realise youngsters may want to flout the ban, but this is an important signal."

  • Prescriptions for medicines will only be valid for three months. Until now, there was no time limit, but refunds by the health mutual were restricted to the end of the third month following the date of prescription.  In both cases, a deadline of three months will apply now, although in cases doctors can extend the deadline for patients who need regular medication. 
  • Poor people who can't afford to pay their gas bill, are entitled to a minimum delivery. Between 1 November and 31 March, they can apply for financial help from the local social services (OCMW) to foot the bill. 
  • Apple TV+ is available in Belgium as from today. Apple is launching the streaming service to compete with Netflix. The price has been set at 4.99 euros per month, well below the Netflix price of at least 7.99 euros per month. Apple is launching the service in about 100 countries, and is counting on Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon to boost their start.