When they asked the little girl where her home was she replied - Where mother is

Underage smoking not illegal?


Teen smokerDid you know that right now, it’s illegal for stores to sell cigarettes to kids under the age of 18 or 19 (depending on the province), but that doesn’t mean that it’s illegal for kids to smoke?

In fact, while laws against underage drinking are commonplace, laws against underage smoking only exist in Alberta and Nova Scotia. Why is that?.....

A study released in October by the University of Florida and DePaul University in Chicago indicates that the rest of the provinces should consider banning youth smoking too. It found that introducing youth possession laws for tobacco is an effective approach to reducing the number of young smokers.

Leonard Jason, a psychology professor at DePaul University and co-author of the study, says that banning the sale of tobacco to minors isn’t enough. “There are a variety of ways that, if you’re addicted, you’re going to get tobacco. So you need something more,” he says. Jason argues that if young people can’t smoke openly because they’re afraid of being ticketed by police, there’s less peer pressure for others to pick up the habit.

The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) agrees. Despite the fact that tobacco products account for 40 to 60 per cent of a typical convenience store’s annual sales, the association has campaigned for years to push the provinces to pass legislation banning minors from having or smoking tobacco. The reason? Because the current law puts the onus on the tobacco retailer and not the kids—and convenience store owners are getting tired of being the gatekeepers.

Steve Tennant, vice-president of the CCSA, says the provinces should keep the laws making it illegal to sell tobacco to minors, but add new laws so enforcers can fine kids for smoking directly. The additional laws are needed, he says, because many kids are bypassing the stores and buying contraband cigarettes on the black market.

“The legislation that we’re proposing is a ban that would complement the existing restrictions on tobacco sales to minors, and add a deterrent to contraband sales,” Tennant says.

But Cynthia Callard, executive director of the anti-smoking advocacy group Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, says the very fact that the CCSA supports such a ban is evidence that it won’t work. “I can’t overstate how relevant it is that the only people who are pushing for youth possession laws are tobacco companies and tobacco retailers,” she says. “That should give anyone pause.”

In my opinion, I believe that no matter what the motives behind the support for the law, I think it does need to happen. I had always assumed that cigarettes were illegal to smoke for minors due to the numerous signs posted in retail stores banning the sale of them to minors. It's a strange message to children that says "We can't sell them to you - but if you happen to get them from someone on the black market, well, then it's your call."

There needs to be a consistant message for children that choosing to smoke is not something that should be taken lightly.

I never took up smoking as a teenager (despite all my friends who did).

Deciding to smoke is not something that should be left up to teenagers. And right now, there are no laws to hold anyone accountable for teenagers in possession of them, other than the stores who sell them.

Come on, we've made it almost impossible for adults to smoke near any type of public place.Isn't it time we enforce something that could actually make a difference for our children's future?

- With excerpts from Macleans.ca