Residents & retailers urged to support changes to driver's licences

Tuesday, September 25, 2012   by: Kate AdamsNorth Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
News Release


A provincial tobacco-control coalition wants to ‘strip down’ driver’s licences in Ontario to make it easier for store clerks to see if someone is too young to be sold cigarettes or other tobacco products.

A local representative of the Not To Kids coalition is solidly behind the proposal to add visual age indicator strips down the side of licences. The proposed colour strips would appear beside the photo on a driver’s licence, indicating if the person was under the age of 19 years and listing the date when the licencee would reach the age of majority. In Ontario, no one may sell tobacco or alcohol products to anyone who is less than 19 years of age.

“Driver’s licences are the most common form of ID used to buy restricted products like tobacco and alcohol,” says Reed Morrison, a Community Health Promoter with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. “By clearly showing on the licence when someone will turn age 19, it will take away any guesswork for store clerks and retailers and help them easily identify underage customers.”

With current Ontario driver’s licences, there can be a high degree of error among store clerks and retailers determining if someone is 19 years of age. According to the Not To Kids coalition, visual age indicator strips will make the job of which customers are underage faster, easier and more accurate for Ontario businesses. That will help lower the unintentional sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors, reducing the risk of retailers and their employees being charged.

All American states have the visual age indicator strips on their licences, as does every Canadian province except for Ontario and Quebec. “We’re taking a page from the book of other places in North America that already have these types of driver’s licences,” Morrison adds.

The Not to Kids Coalition ( is a network of public health units in Ontario that work to reduce tobacco use among youth by limiting access to tobacco products from all sources. Not To Kids representatives have presented the idea to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which is considering the proposal.

Morrison urges local residents and retailers to support the licence change by contacting their Member of Provincial Parliament. To find out more, contact the Health Unit at 705-474-1400, 1-800-563-2808 or

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