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Monday, 25 November 2013 00:00

New tobacco flavourings ban the toughest in Canada

Health groups are applauding today’s passage of Alberta Bill 206, the Tobacco Reduction (Flavoured Tobacco Products) Amendment Act. The bill gives the government full regulatory authority over all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. The bill received near-unanimous support in the Alberta Legislature despite intense lobbying from the tobacco industry and its allies.

“We applaud the Legislative Assembly and the Government of Alberta for protecting youth from flavoured tobacco products, said Leigh Allard of The Lung Association of Alberta and NWT. “Twenty-six thousand Alberta schoolchildren are using flavoured tobacco products and this bill will help to keep thousands of kids tobacco-free for life. Tobacco companies have flooded the market with a wide range of flavoured starter products to lure adolescents and to get them hooked. We cannot allow tobacco companies to target youth. Bill 206 will bring an end to this deceptive and deadly marketing ploy.”

Over 20 tobacco lobbyists registered to fight the bill including several prominent political insiders. The lobbyists failed to secure a menthol exemption in the bill despite numerous attempts.

“We are very relieved that the MLAs and the government resisted the tobacco lobby’s efforts to secure a menthol exemption”, said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT. “Menthol is one of the most insidious flavourings and research shows that it increases smoking initiation among youth and makes it harder for smokers to quit. Menthol masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, enables deeper inhalation and increases nicotine absorption.”

A recent Health Canada survey of 50,000 Canadian schoolchildren revealed that most youth tobacco users in Canada and Alberta are using flavoured tobacco products. About one-half of kids who are using flavoured tobacco are smoking menthol cigarettes. In sharp contrast, menthol cigarettes represent less than five percent of the total adult cigarette market in Canada.

The Legislative Assembly is also considering Bill 33, which will restrict tobacco sales to minors, will protect children and youth from secondhand smoke in vehicles and will preserve the provincial smoking ban by prohibiting the use of waterpipes (hookahs) in public establishments.

“Alberta kids deserve first-class protection from tobacco industry products and Bills 206 and 33 will help to achieve this objective” said Ev Glasser of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “We are delighted with today’s outcome and we encourage the Legislative Assembly to approve Bill 33 without delay. Together these bills will help to keep thousands of Alberta youth tobacco-free for life.”

Over eighty percent of new tobacco users are youths under the age of 18. Tobacco has no safe level of consumption, it is highly addictive and it is the only legal product that kills one-half of its long term users when used exactly as intended by its manufacturers.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of prominent health organizations who are working together to prevent and reduce tobacco use. For more information on the coalition and its activities please visit

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Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546
Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5295

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