Ontario is unlikely to criminalize teen smoking despite a private member’s bill that would make it illegal for people younger than 19 to smoke or possess cigarettes. Such bills rarely become law, and the Liberal government strongly hinted yesterday it would use its majority to defeat the proposal.

Cambridge Progressive Conservative Gerry Martiniuk introduced the bill, but even he admitted the best course of action would be to lower taxes to eliminate illegal cigarettes.

“I am concerned with the low price of illegal tobacco, a problem which we are all aware is making smoking affordable for our young people to experiment with,” said Martiniuk.
Even though it’s illegal in Ontario to sell cigarettes to people younger than 19, the law doesn’t prevent them from smoking.

The best alternative to outlawing teen smoking would be to eliminate illegal cigarettes and the province could do that by lowering tobacco taxes — as it did 10 years ago, said Martiniuk. He added that doesn’t make sense to outlaw the sale of cigarettes to people younger than 19 when the law doesn’t prevent them from smoking.