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Friday, 09 May 2014 00:00

Public Health Champion Urges Alberta Government to Follow Through on Flavoured Tobacco Ban


Calgary - Today at the 2014 Canadian Respiratory Conference, a national tobacco control leader applauded the Alberta government for its leadership in approving Canada’s strongest legislation on flavoured tobacco products and he is urging the government to fully implement the ban without delay.

“The Alberta Government deserves full marks for passing strong legislation to curtail the use of flavoured tobacco by adolescents” said Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ottawa.  “We urge the government to follow through on its commitment by implementing the legislation without delay or exemptions.  Alberta has an opportunity to lead the country while protecting thousands of youth from flavoured tobacco products”.

Last November, the Alberta government approved Bill 206 which allows the province to ban all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes.  Alberta is the first province in Canada to approve legislation that applies to all flavoured tobacco products.  However the bill is still awaiting proclamation by the Alberta Cabinet before it can take effect.  Cabinet has the power to exempt certain flavoured products but health groups are calling for full and swift implementation.

“We urge the Alberta government to resist the tobacco industry’s efforts to secure product exemptions from the legislation” said Leigh Allard, President and CEO of the Lung Association of Alberta which is hosting this year’s national respiratory conference.  “We are particularly concerned about a possible exemption for menthol cigarettes especially considering the large number of Alberta schoolchildren who are currently smoking these deceptive and harmful products.  Menthol is the most harmful flavouring of all because it soothes the throat, opens up the airways and increases nicotine absorption.  A menthol exemption will leave behind 13,000 Alberta youth who are currently smoking these products and will allow thousands more to become addicted in future years.”

A record number of over two dozen tobacco lobbyists are registered to fight tobacco control measures in Alberta.  Most have registered since the Alberta government announced its intention to pass tougher tobacco legislation in 2012.  The industry is actively seeking an exemption for menthol cigarettes and other flavoured tobacco products.

“The Alberta government can protect thousands of Alberta kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and resulting illness by implementing Bill 206 immediately and completely,” said Cunningham.  “Alberta kids deserve first-class protection from tobacco industry products and if this bill is fully implemented it will provide urgently needed protection.”
An Ipsos-Reid survey of 1,000 Albertans conducted in October 2013 revealed that 68 percent of respondents support a provincial ban on all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes.

According to the latest Youth Smoking Survey commissioned by Health Canada, over 26,000 Alberta schoolchildren are using flavoured tobacco products representing 56 percent of all youth tobacco users in the province.  Over the past few decades, tobacco companies have flooded the market with a wide range of candy, fruit and mint flavoured products.  Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Alberta and it claims the lives of 3,000 residents annually.

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Contact:

Rob Cunningham at 613-762-4624 rcunning(at)cancer.ca
Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295 Angeline.Webb(at)cancer.ab.ca
 
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