The Strangford MLA said: “The Executive should try and speed up the process for raising the legal age for buying cigarettes to 18. We need this provision now if we are to be successful in stamping out smoking among young people.
“I welcome the campaign launched by the Health Promotion Agency today to persuade young women to stop smoking. There are massively damaging effects on the unborn child, if the woman is pregnant. Cancer is a devastating phenomenon in our society and this campaign will further hammer home this important message.
“Lowering the number of smokers in Northern Ireland will not only give people better health and more disposable income, it will also allow the Executive to spend the health budget on other areas.
“Stopping smoking makes health and financial sense, not only to individuals but to everyone in this country.
“I am calling on the Executive to ensure that the legal smoking age is raised to 18 quickly to tackle this problem head on. They have the power, so it’s up to them to be bold and make a difference.”