B.C. health minister suggests increasing smoking age to 21

Terry Lake raises question during National Non-Smoking Week.

B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake wants the province to look at raising the legal smoking age from 19 to 21.

Lake brought up the issue in a Tweet on Tuesday, as well as in a government news release on Sunday to kick off National Non-Smoking Week.

Lake noted that many jurisdictions in the U.S., such as Hawaii and California, have a smoking age of 21.

“Tobacco is pervasive and attractive, and we need to think outside the box for ways to help limit the number of young people starting to smoke,” Lake said.

The province runs the BC Smoking Cessation Program which gives B.C. residents free nicotine replacement therapy products (nicotine gum, lozenges, an inhaler or the patch, in addition to prescription drugs) when they register at any community pharmacy.

“I congratulate the 234,500 British Columbians who have used the BC’s Smoking Cessation Program to try and quit,” Lake said.