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Monday, 16 April 2012 02:49

Party leaders take a stand on measures to reduce youth tobacco use

Edmonton - Leaders from the five major Alberta political parties have completed a survey on tobacco reduction conducted by the Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta.

Four of the five party leaders support legislation to prohibit candy flavourings in all tobacco products and to curb tobacco sales to minors. The same four leaders support raising tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco affordability among youth and suing tobacco companies to recover health care costs resulting from negligent and deceptive marketing practices. Four leaders support redirecting tobacco tax revenues toward improved tobacco reduction initiatives.

"Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from tobacco industry products and these measures will help kids remain tobacco-free for life" said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society – Alberta/NWT Division. "We are pleased to have the support of almost all political parties for effective public policies aimed at reducing youth tobacco use. We look forward to working with all of the parties and MLAs to reduce youth tobacco use following the election."

The survey also included a question on banning smoking in automobiles containing children under the age of 18. However Bill 203, the Tobacco Reduction (Protection of Children in Vehicles) Amendment Act was recently passed with unanimous all-party support in the Legislative Assembly.

"We were delighted to receive all-party support for Bill 203 and we hope that we can continue to rely on the cooperation of all parties and MLAs for further policy measures to reduce youth smoking in Alberta" said Kate Chidester, Vice-President, Health and Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Tobacco use among adolescents remains unacceptably high and Alberta is not meeting its youth tobacco reduction targets. Although Bill 203 was a good step, we will be counting on the newly elected MLAs and the Legislative Assembly to finish the job with further policy measures."

The smoking rate among Alberta youth aged 12 to 19 was 14 percent in 2010 according to the Canadian Community Health Survey. The Alberta Health and Wellness target was 10 percent. Youth smoking rates were down to 11 percent in 2008 and have increased in recent years.

"Tobacco companies continue to target Alberta youth with candy flavourings, price discounts, attractive packaging and through easy access to cigarettes" said Dr. Candace Nykiforuk of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. "We cannot allow tobacco companies to target Alberta youth with these deceptive and predatory marketing practices. The government must put an end to these objectionable and disturbingly effective marketing schemes".

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Alberta—claiming the lives of 3,000 residents each year. Tobacco industry products kill one-half of long-term users when used exactly as intended. About 50,000 Alberta youth aged 12 to 19 are current smokers.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of prominent health organizations that are working together to reduce tobacco use.

The full survey results can be viewed at

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