01/13/2015 04:18 EST | Updated 03/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Art Van Pelt advocates expanded ban on tobacco products

A Maple Ridge man who lost his wife to lung cancer wants the government to tighten restrictions on who can buy tobacco products.

"We have a product that's being sold that we have to slowly phase out of our society," Art Van Pelt told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

The current B.C. regulation, which bans the sale of tobacco to people under 19, isn't enough, said Van Pelt.

He wants the age limit to rise over time, with a regulation that bans tobacco sales to anyone born after a given date, such as Jan. 1, 1997.

That would mean this year, an 18-year-old couldn't buy tobocco products, but in 2017, a 20-year-old would face the same restrictions.

Wife died 23 years after she quit smoking

Van Pelt came up with the plan after his wife Susan's death a year ago.

She started smoking as a teenager, but quit for 23 years, said Van Pelt.

He said they both thought that her lungs would regenerate over a period of time, and were shocked when a CT scan revealed she had stage four lung cancer.

She passed away last January — seven weeks after the diagnosis.

"Obviously a very personal, devastating episode in our family's period of time, so ... we wanted to see if we can make some changes," he said. 

Van Pelt formed the group "Susan’s Battle" in her memory, and came up with a number of strategies to help prevent others from suffering the same fate.

In addition to the "born after" proposal, he also wants  to see the government further restrict where tobacco is sold — for example having only pharmacies sell tobacco so that a health professional can also provide the customer with information about quitting.

Van Pelt will be sharing his late wife Susan’s story at the Ridge Meadow Hospital Foundation’s health forum on smoking cessation Tuesday night, held at the ACT Arts Centre & Theatre in Maple Ridge from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m..

To hear the full interview with Art Van Pelt, click the audio labelled: Art Van Pelt wants ban on tobacco.