Canada said Monday it aims to bring the number of smokers down from 19 percent of the population to 12 percent by 2011, through tougher smoking bans and by clamping down on cigarette smuggling. "Reaching a 12 percent smoking rate is a very ambitious goal, but it is by no means unrealistic," said Health Minister Tony Clement.
"Seeing the great progress we have made over the past few years, I am confident that by putting our renewed Federal Tobacco Control Strategy into action, we can achieve this goal," he added.
The government's plan is to reduce the current 15 percent smoking rate among 15 to 19-year-olds to nine percent, which could prove difficult because it is the only age group that has not cut back on smoking in the past few years.
The government also wants to increase the number who quit smoking in Canada to 1.5 million and slash those exposed to secondary smoke from 28 percent of the population to 20 percent.
Clement said the government's anti-smoking efforts will focus on improving current anti-smoking regulations and toughen anti-smuggling laws.
According to the Ministry of Health, some five million of Canada's 32.8 million people are smokers, and 37,000 die from tobacco use each year.