A new lifetime cigarette ban for youth in New Zealand, aimed at curbing smoking-related deaths, is something that could work in Canada, says the Canadian Cancer Society.
Rob Cunningham, a policy analyst with the society, told 680 CJOB that similar ideas have been discussed for years at international health conferences.
The New Zealand policy will make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone aged 14 and under, beginning in 2027 — a ban that will remain in place for the rest of a person’s life. A 60-year-old in 2073 would be banned from buying cigarettes, while a 61-year-old would still be allowed to do so.
New Zealand health authorities said they chose 14 as the cut-off age because most smokers pick up the habit as youths, and the goal is to create a smoke-free generation.
“It’s very innovative,” said Cunningham. “I know that it has very strong support of the health organizations in New Zealand. It’ll be very interesting to see how it goes — it certainly should be something that we examine in Canada.
“We do have this objective in Canada of under five per cent tobacco use by 2035. We need a lot more things to get there. One thing that could be done immediately in Manitoba would be to have age 21, for both tobacco and cigarettes — something that P.E.I. has already done … something that 30 states in the U.S. have done.”
Cunningham said the Canada-wide numbers show that around 13 per cent of people in this country are smokers — a far cry from the 50 per cent stat in 1965, but there’s still a long way to go.
“It’s an addictive product, and the overwhelming majority of new users begin as underage youth,” he said.
“Cigarettes are only a legal product by an accident of history. If someone were to try to introduce it as a new product today, given the health effects, it would never be allowed.”
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