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Vancouver doctor wants to raise legal smoking age to 21

Last Updated May 31, 2019 at 6:26 am PDT

FILE - A person smokes a cigarette in downtown Ottawa on Sept. 29, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit
Summary

Health Canada sets the legal age at 18, but provinces have the option of going with a higher age if they wish

Since 2016, 14 states have pushed the legal smoking age to 21, or are in the process of doing so

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A local doctor says it’s time to raise the legal smoking age in Canada.

Dr. Stuart Kreisman with Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital is making that argument on World No Tobacco Day, as he highlights the successes of some U.S. states. Since 2016, 14 states have pushed the legal smoking age to 21, or are in the process of doing so.

Anyone who has been a smoker knows how hard it is to quit and Dr. Kreisman says by raising the legal smoking age to 21, fewer teens will become addicted in the first place.

“The 16 and 17 year olds are getting it from their 18 and 19-year-old friends,” he says. “If you put that up by three years, it becomes harder, and harder certainly for the 16 and 17 year olds to find 21 and 22-year-old suppliers.”

Dr. Kreisman says we should follow the U.S. example.

“The town of Needham, Massachusetts did this about a decade ago and what they showed is that the youth smoking rates dropped in Needham while they rose or just stayed steady in the surrounding towns.”

Health Canada sets the legal age at 18, but provinces have the option of going with a higher age if they wish.