Why NOT make it illegal for kids to smoke??

February 10, 2009 - A new study shows that making it illegal for kids to smoke can help to reduce youth smoking rates. In Canada 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.

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.

Canada’s convenience stores, which make a considerable chunk of their profits from selling cigarettes, support the study’s recommendation to ban youth smoking—while anti-smoking groups, such as Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, oppose it. Cynthia Callard, executive director of the anti-smoking advocacy group Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, says the very fact that the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) supports such a ban is evidence that it won’t work.

A Statistics Canada survey shows that the percentage of youth aged 15 to 19 who smoke has leveled off at 15 per cent in recent years, after declining from 28 per cent in 1999. That suggests it may be time for a new strategy.

United States: According to Arizona State Code 13-3622 it is a misdemeanor for any person under the age of 18 to possess tobacco products in the state of Arizona, therefore it is illegal for any minor to smoke in the state of Arizona.

Reference: This isn’t illegal Corner stores want to ban cigs for kids. Oddly, doctors don’t by Emily Burke, MACLEANS, 2/4/2009.

Related news brief: Illegal for teenagers under 18 to possess tobacco products..