Canada’s health ministry has proposed changes to its new tobacco control legislation that could increase the risk of lung cancer.
The changes would allow people to smoke for up to 20 years without a valid permit.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has said smoking among youth is more common in rural areas and among the homeless.
“It’s one of the biggest concerns that I have, especially as we know the number of young people who have already been smoking,” RCMP Chief Charles Bordeleau said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“They’re the ones that have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.”
The government is also recommending that anyone who smokes for more than 20 years be given a one-time permit.
People can apply for a permit, which they must renew every two years, but Bordelear said he doesn’t expect to see an increase because there is a small waiting period before a permit is issued.
Bordeleau also said that the rules will prevent young people from getting caught in the middle of a debate over smoking in public.
“We want to prevent people from taking sides and jumping to any conclusions, but we want to give people a fair chance to make their own decisions,” he said.
“We’re going to leave that to the discretion of the people who are actually doing the smoking.”
The new measures will take effect in early 2018.