January 26, 2017
Terry Lake, the British Columbia health minister, is looking to raise the legal smoking age to 21.
Each province and territory in Canada sets the age limits for smoking. In B.C. and five other provinces, the smoking age limit is 19; the rest of the provinces have set the smoking limit at 18. Lake is “an ardent anti-smoker”. He believes that the later someone is able to legally purchase cigarettes, the better the odds that they won’t develop a smoking habit.
What the Opposition Says
Other politicians in British Columbia back Lake’s campaign to raise the legal smoking age. Opposition New Democrat Leader John Horgan stated “as a reformed smoker, I want to discourage smoking whenever possible. I don’t want to give policy pronouncements on the fly, but if we can reduce smoking in B.C., I encourage that.”
Will Raising the Legal Smoking Age Affect Smoking Rates?
Lake admitted that this campaign is personal to him. “I’ve seen in my family, my mom die, my dad suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Lake said. “I’ve seen my siblings struggle with addiction to nicotine.” He isn’t running again in the May election, but he “wanted to start the conversation so future governments may consider that.”
He has noted that other jurisdictions have raised the legal smoking age and found it reduced smoking rates among students. Lake has also said that Hawaii and California have raised their legal smoking age to 21 as well. However, he did not provide United States data on smoking rates since the increase was implemented.
In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said “tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease and death in British Columbia and one of our primary goals is to stop youth from starting to use tobacco products. We have made great progress in reducing tobacco prevalence in the province, and we continue to have the lowest smoking rate in Canada, at approximately 15.3 per cent”.
To learn more about this story, visit the CTV news website.
Story source: CTV News
Featured image source: Cigarettes Reporter