B.C.'s health minister says it's time to consider raising the legal age for consumption of tobacco products from 19 to 21.

Minister Terry Lake asked his Twitter followers yesterday whether the province should raise the smoking age, as a number of American jurisdictions — including California and Hawaii — have done in recent years.

Lake said the province is going to explore wider consultation on the issue.

"I thought it would be worth starting the conversation about the age of smoking and what impact we could see of potentially increasing the age," Lake said.

The health minister said no new legislation is planned before this spring's election, but it's something he's been thinking about for a while.

"This is not about policy we are considering right now, but it's a conversation [provincial health officer] Dr. Perry Kendall and I had months ago," Lake said.

Lake cited a study that saw smoking rates in high school students decrease 47 per cent after the legal age was raised.

With files from Richard Zussman.