Montreal Councillor calls on Quebec to raise smoking age to 21

Quebec to raise smoking age to 21 – Montreal City Councillor Marvin Rotrand is calling on the Quebec Government to raise the smoking age to 21. He would like Quebec to take the lead by becoming the first province in Canada to raise the age to acquire and use smoking and vaping products to 21. Recently, New York state adopted a law raising the smoking age to 21 from 18 and Texas and Ohio have just done the same. The age to acquire and use tobacco and vaping products is now 21 in 17 U.S. states and several others are considering similar legislation. “I am renewing my call for action on the part of the Government of Quebec to show leadership in fighting smoking,” he says. He points to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine predicting that raising the minimum age of sale of tobacco products would result in an over 15% reduction in smoking initiation rates among youth under age 21.

Smoking-related diseases

Some 10,000 Quebecers die each year from smoking-related diseases which are preventable. Rotrand is the “Dean of Montreal City Council” meaning he has been on council longer than anybody else and his opinion carries weight.  He believes that it is high time for Quebec to implement a more vigorous plan to combat smoking. Quebec has the lowest taxes on smoking products in Canada and Rotrand would like to see taxes on tobacco raised. This one seems like a no-brainer. “Quebec continues to have the cheapest cigarette prices in Canada,” he says. “The same carton of cigarettes costs $43 more in Manitoba than in Quebec. Price affects consumption.” Die-hard smokers would surely balk at any raise in the price of tobacco but it would likely have some deterrent effect on potential smokers.

Smoking ban in public parks

Rotrand who represents the Snowdon district would also like to ban smoking in parks. He says that while smoking in parks is illegal in almost every major North American city, including in most Montreal suburbs and some Montreal boroughs, this is not the case throughout Montreal. He notes the twin-findings of the The World Health Organization: over a million deaths will occur this year due to second hand smoke while extending smoke free protection to more public places is an effective strategy to protect the public.

Quebec to raise smoking age to 21

Not everyone feels the same way. Rotrand says Mayor Valerie Plante has sent a mixed message on the dangers of smoking by lobbying Quebec for laxer rules on marijuana use. On the island of Montreal, it is illegal to smoke or vape in parks in the suburbs and in some boroughs. However, Rotrand says that in boroughs controlled by Projet Montreal it is still legal to smoke in parks except within 9 meters of children’s play areas as mandated by provincial legislation.
 “I am asking that Quebec extend the public places where it is illegal to smoke. Thousands of cities in the United States and Canada (he cites Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, etc.) ban smoking in parks and beaches and many other places,” he says. “My conclusion is that Quebec is falling behind in this crucial public health battle.”
By: Deborah Rankin –
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