Fuck, marry, kill: the "legal age" for doing adult things around the world. Image 1.

JD DiGiovanni

Author

 

For the most part, the age at which a person can legally get drunk, have sex, and then light up a cigarette afterwards is determined by medical and socio-economic considerations. Binge drinking before the age of 21 can stunt brain development, permanently impairing your ability to set goals. Teen pregnancy is on the decline in the US, but less than two percent of teen moms graduate from college by the age of 30. And smoking, according to the Center for Disease Control, will eventually kill 1 in 13 of Americans currently younger than 17 if it continues at the current rate. 

And yet, maturity isn’t easily correlated to age, and different definitions of it tend to vacillate based on the culture of the home country. Some are notoriously shadowy, like Vatican’s age of consent. Others are staunchly upheld, like mandatory military time. What qualifies as an “adult” decision, and what decisions are mandatory to qualify you as an adult? Here’s a list of laws on things that are considered adult—consenting to sex, marrying, enlisting in the military, drinking, smoking and gambling—from sensible to ridiculous to horrifying.

   

 

Vatican City

Vatican

 

Fuck:

18

raised from 12 in 2013

Drinking:

18

Marry:

14, 16

14 (girls), 16 (boys)

Smoking:

Banned

Kill:

19

 

Gambling:

Nah

Vatican law is crazy, not only for what’s been allowed but for what’s even in there at all. Only 2013 was the age of consent was raised from 12 to 18 years old. And Article 5 of the “Crimes against the person” law, for example, covers the sale of children for the purposes of prostitution, rape, enslavement, and selling their organs (which gets you a fine and 6-12 years of prison time). Sex with minors (people under 18) is illegal, but penalties are significantly reduced after the child reaches 14 years old.

In order to be married in the Vatican, girls have to be at least 14, and boys 16. Roman Catholics with Swiss citizenship can join the Pontifical Guard at the age of 19.

↓ The Vatican's age of consent timeline

   

 

Athens

Greece

 

Fuck:

15

Drinking:

No limit

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

19

Gambling:

23

Greece has adopted some of Europe’s strictest anti-smoking laws, but Greeks couldn’t care less. Technically, a person has to be at least 18 before they can smoke in Greece, but according to one study, 30% of teens between the age of 13 and 15 had smoked before, and nearly half said they bought their cigarettes from stores.

Greek law also dgaf about drinking, which technically requires people to be 18 before drinking in public but has no age limit for doing it in private.

Greece has conscription. With some exceptions for those living abroad and studying, Greek men have to serve in the military at some point between the ages of 19 and 45. Conscientous objectors can also elect to enlist in alternate unarmed service, which is twice as long as the conscripted military service minus a month.

 

Sofia

Bulgaria

 

Fuck:

14

Drinking:

18

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

18

Gambling:

18

 The Bulgarian casino business has grown a lot since the country regained autonomy after the fall of the Soviet Union. According to a diplomatic cable from 2009 leaked by WikiLeaks, at least some of these casinos are owned by the head of an organized crime group who is known by the comic-bookish name ‘the skull’. According to some sources, those younger than 19 or wearing a military uniform cannot enter a casino in Bulgaria.

If you’re 18 or older you can buy cigarettes in Bulgaria, though regulation is somewhat lax. Bulgarians can volunteer to join the military at 18.

 

Madrid

Spain

 

Fuck:

16

Raised from 13 in 2015

Drinking:

18

Marry:

16

Raised from 14 in 2013

Smoking:

18

Kill:

18

 

Gambling:

18

Spain recently passed a law banning smoking in public spaces, and it pissed a bunch of people off, but not as much as their super low age of consent did. Until 2015, Spain’s age of consent was as low as 13. It’s now 16. The law says that a person has to be 16 to tie the knot in Madrid, a two year hike from Spain’s previous minimum of 14.

For Spanish citizens, joining the military is voluntary for anyone between the ages of 18 and 26 years old. If you join, you’re making a two to three year long commitment.

And according to a wide range of sketchy looking websites you have to be at least 18 to roll the dice.

 

Beijing

China

 

Fuck:

14

 

Drinking:

18

Marry:

20, 22

20 (women), 22 (men)

Smoking:

No limit

Kill:

No limit

(men), 18 (women)

Gambling:

Banned

China is home to the world's highest rates of smoking. Tobacco use apparently runs rampant in China, where there is no legal age minimum and an average starting age of 11 years old. The habit is so prevalent in indoor public areas that Beijing just enacted a fine and “name and shame” law where repeat offenders’ photos and names will be listed on a government site.

Drinking has also become more common in China over the past 35 years. According to a recent study published in The Lancet, an average person in China drinks 6.7 liters of pure alcohol over a year, more than double what alcohol consumption was in 1978. Legal drinking age is 18, but it may be more ambigious.

There is no age limit for those volunteering to serve in the military. China can recruit men between the ages of 18 and 24, women between the ages of 18 and 19 who have high-school educations can serve in specific military roles, combat and otherwise.

↓ A brief history of tobacco laws in China

   

 

 

Seoul

South Korea

 

Fuck:

13

Drinking:

19

Marry:

19

Smoking:

19

Kill:

18

Gambling:

18

Like Japan, South Korea considers you legal by the age of 13, six years before you're legally allowed to get married without consent of your parents. 

Smoking was recently discouraged with a new sales tax nearly doubling the price of cigarettes, which one analyst predicted would cut the country’s smoking by 20%. Those numbers won’t be easily reached, seeing that half the country smokes cigarettes, and age limits are loosely enforced. 

Men between the ages of 20 and 30 years old are required to serve anywhere between 21 and 24 months in the military. 

 

Moscow

Russia

 

Fuck:

16

Drinking:

18

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

18

Gambling:

18

In July of 2009, gambling was outlawed in Russia except for in designated zones located a distance from large metropolitan areas, where the age requirement is 18. The closing of gambling houses in the country was seen by some as a reaction gang ties some casinos had, as well as the rising issue of gambling addiction. Nonetheless, the decision was met with criticism by those concerned about the blow to the government budget and loss of jobs.

Men register for the draft at age 17, can serve either voluntarily or compulsory between the ages of 18 and 27. Women can volunteer to join.

At 18 someone can legally purchase cigarettes in Russia, but a large number of Russian kids start smoking before then.

 

Sydney

Australia

 

Fuck:

16

Drinking:

18

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

17

Gambling:

18

Despite being some of the biggest drinkers in the world, Australians pay more for alcohol than almost every country. The Australian alcohol tax code is dizzying in its variety - some taxes are according to alcohol content, others just for wine, some change twice a year, and that’s all on top of a 10% flat tax on retail sales.

An Australian can join the military at 17 with consent from their parent.

 

Oslo

Norway

 

Fuck:

16

 

Drinking:

18, 20

Marry:

16

 

Smoking:

18

Kill:

17, 18

17 (men), 18 (women)

Gambling:

18

Norwegians consume relatively less alcohol than the rest of the world, most likely because the Norwegian government owns the only store allowed to sell alcohol, and there are only 300 to serve the country of roughly 5.2 million people. At 18, you can drink anything below 22% ABV, but you have to wait until 20 for harder stuff. Smoking regulations are pretty strictly enforced in Norway, where you have to be 18 before you can buy tobacco.

Someone living in Oslo could get married as young as 16 if they had permission from both their parents, and the County Governor.

Men between the ages of 19 and 35 are expected to serve one year in the military. Male volunteers can join at the age of 17, women at 18, and during wartime recruits can be as young as 16. After that year of service, Norwegians are expected to return to training 4-5 times between the ages of 35 and 60.

 

Mumbai

India

 

Fuck:

18

 

Drinking:

25

Marry:

18, 21

18 (girls), 21 (boys)

Smoking:

18

Kill:

16

 

Gambling:

Varies

Alcohol consumption is tied to wealth in India. According to a study by India’s National Sample Survey Office, the richest 5% of the country drink mainly beer and refined liquor, while the rest of the country enjoys toddy and ‘country liquor’ at amounts correlating with their income. Alcohol sales are regulated state-by-state. In Mumbai, if you’re younger than 25, you can’t buy liquor.

Gambling laws are made on a state-by-state basis, and the minimum age is unclear. Running a public gambling house, however, is illegal and is punished by a small fine or one month prison time. Online gambling is, however, illegal in all states but Sikkim; those definitions led the Supreme Court of India to draw a very interesting distinction between games of "skill" and games of "chance." Rummy, for example, is not considered gambling because it requires a degree of skill, while bingo is a game in which "no human mind knows or can know what it will be until the dice is thrown, the wheel stops its revolution or the dealer has dealt with the cards."

 ↓ A brief international history of conscription

(compulsatory military service)

   

The legal smoking age is 18 years old, however the laws have not been very well enforced.

Indian men can join the military as young as 16.

 

Tel-Aviv

Israel

 

Fuck:

16

Drinking:

18

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

17, 18

Gambling:

Banned

According to the health ministry in Israel, Israelis smoked 426 million packs of cigarettes in 2011, bringing in 5 billion shekels in tax revenue. Despite all this, the number of Israelis looking to quit has increased.

At the age of 18, both Jewish men and women must join the military and serve for 36 months and 21 months respectively, and last year, Israel got rid of military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews in religious studies. Christians, Muslims, and Circassians can volunteer at age 17.

Military conscription in Israel has lately been a point of contention, due to conflicting political beliefs and different religious requirements; a 2010 study by the University of Haifa found that 26% of military-age Jewish Israelis didn't serve in 2007. That number has been estimated to rise as high as 60% by 2020. 

 

Sao Paulo

Brazil

 

Fuck:

14

 

Drinking:

18

Marry:

16, 18

16 (women), 18 (men)

Smoking:

18

Kill:

17

 

Gambling:

18

Brazil’s families are getting smaller, in part due to the changing roles of women who now make up 40 percent of the workforce and the majority of college graduates. The average age Brazilians get married at is 28 for men, and 26 for women. The 2010 Brazilian census shows the average family size is down from 3.8 to 3.3. 

Casinos are illegal in Brazil, but a person can gamble using cards or whatever if they’re 18.

 

Dublin

Ireland

 

Fuck:

17

Drinking:

18

Marry:

18

Smoking:

18

Kill:

18

Gambling:

18

The oldest brewery in Ireland, Smithwick’s, is actually older than the U.S. by a little more than 66 years, with an origin story dating back to 13th century Franciscan monks. The legal drinking age is 18, but for the record, Ireland’s drinking was about on par with Germany, France, and Russia as of 2012.

You must be 18 to buy lotto tickets. At 19, six years after you’re legally allowed to have sex, you can get married without consent of your parents. Legal age for smoking is 19 but is only loosely enforced. 

 

Riyadh

Saudi Arabia

 

Fuck:

No limit

if married

Drinking:

Banned

Marry:

No limit

as young as 9

Smoking:

18

Kill:

19

 

Gambling:

Banned

Family law in Saudi Arabia is profoundly troubling. Sex outside of marriage is illegal. There is no minimum age for marriage and human rights groups have often called attention to the disturbing prevalence of child marriage. In 2014, Saudi Arabia’s religious leader, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Asheikh rejected a proposal from the country’s Ministry of Justice for a minimum marriage age requirement of 15 for girls. In 2009, the Grand Mufti reportedly said that girls aged 10 or 12 "marriageable." Some Saudi clerics reportedly justified 9 as a marriageable age.

Those 17 years and older can join the military. 

Saudi Arabia had little if any smoking regulations until 2010, when they began to ban smoking inside and limited the age of purchasing tobacco to those over 18.

 

Marrakesh

Morocco

 

Fuck:

15

 

Drinking:

16

Marry:

18

but often ignored

Smoking:

18

Kill:

20

 

Gambling:

18


Marriage age in Morocco is 18, but "judges routinely approve much younger unions in the country," reports Al Jazeera. Though the requirement was raised from 14 to 18 in 2003, underage marriages are legal if permission is given by a "government recognized official/court and girl's guardian." Between 1998 and 2008, requests for child marriages have increased an dnow make up 29% of all marriages in Morocco.

There are several human rights crises concerning these policies, including that of young girls being forced to marry their rapists, which too circumvents the alleged marriage age requirements. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: Whitney Kimball, Marina Galperina Cover image: Flickr.com  Additional sources: The Mirror, US Embassy, Greeka, Chartsbin, Sofia Echo, Daily Mail, Dan Bunting, CIA.gov, PDF, Chartsbin, Angoinfo.com, Mapa Casino, Chartsbin, nsvrc.org, Global Times, US Embassy Beijing, PDF, Likms.assembly.go.kr, US Embassy Seoul, Chartsbin, koreajoongangdaily.joins.com, Chartsbin, Chartsbin, ettiquette.wanderbat.com, Chartsbin, lawstuff.org.au, Wiki, yoursydneymarriagecelebrant.com.au, lawstuff.org, blackjack.com.au, Chartsbin, The Mirror, Wiki, Chartsbin, consultant.ru, The Mirror, Wiki, cia.gov, India Times, India Times, India Times, India Times, India Times, scmp.com, Times of Israel, Washington Post, J Post, NY Times, Times Of Israel, Chartsbin, CIA.gov, Wiki, The Brazil Business, citizensinformation.ie, Saudi Gazette, Al Jazeera, Mazagan Beach Resort, The Atlantic,nyulawglobal.org, PDF, minnesota.publicradio.org,BBC, pewforum.org, Talking Point Memo, vaticanstate.va, PDF, NY Times, The Guardian, Google Books, The Guardian, Indian Kanoon, Google Books, indiankanoon.org, mondaq.com, legalcrystal.com, perry4law.org, Fortune, Archive.iwm.org.uk, Politico, NY Times