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Wednesday, 10 September 2014 10:13

Health Groups Urge New Premier to Proclaim Bill 206 in Response to Disturbing Youth Smoking Survey

News Release – Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Edmonton –A coalition of prominent health organizations is urging the new Premier-elect and his Cabinet to immediately proclaim Bill 206following the release of new survey data confirming high rates of flavoured tobacco use among Alberta youth.

Today, the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo released the findings of the national 2012-2013 Youth Smoking Survey commissioned by Health Canada.  The survey confirms that more than one-half of Alberta youth tobacco users in grades 6 to 12 are using flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes.  In Alberta, this translates into 20,600 students in grades 6 to 12, or 53 percent of all youth tobacco users.  Flavoured tobacco use among Alberta youth exceeds the national average of 49 percent.

Jim Prentice recently stated publicly that he would support the proclamation of Bill 206 if he became Premier and he emphasized that it would be the right thing to do for the health of Alberta children.  Passed last year by the Legislative Assembly, Bill 206 represents the strongest legislation of its kind in North America although it is still awaiting final proclamation by Cabinet.

“The new Premier and his Cabinet have an opportunity to protect thousands of Alberta youth from addiction, disease and premature death by proclaiming Bill 206” said Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “I can’t think of a more important role for government than to protect youth from serious health hazards like tobacco.  There are 20,000 reasons why the Alberta government needs to proclaim Bill 206 immediately”.

The survey revealed that menthol is the most popular tobacco flavour among youth.  One in three youth smokers are using menthol cigarettes compared with only one in twenty-five adult smokers.  Research shows that menthol increases smoking initiation and nicotine addiction among youth.  Youth who smoke menthol cigarettes smoke 60 percent more cigarettes than non-menthol smokers and they are less likely to quit. Menthol masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, enables deeper inhalation, and increases the absorption of nicotine.

“Any legitimate ban on flavoured tobacco must include menthol—the most popular flavour among youth” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division.  “A menthol exemption would severely limit the impact of Bill 206 and many kids who are using other flavoured tobacco products may simply switch to menthol cigarettes.  We cannot allow tobacco companies to continue targeting youth with candy, mint and fruit flavoured tobacco products.  This deplorable marketing strategy cannot be allowed to continue.”

The tobacco industry has registered over 20 lobbyists to fight Bill 206 and other tobacco control measures.  Health groups are concerned that the tobacco lobby is trying to secure exemptions from Bill 206 including menthol cigarettes.

“Alberta kids deserve first-class protection from tobacco industry products. Youth smoking rates remain unacceptably high and further action is needed to keep kids tobacco-free for life” said Les Hagen, Executive Director of Action on Smoking & Health. “We urge the Premier and Cabinet to move swiftly and decisively to protect Alberta kids from the predatory marketing ploy. Protection delayed is protection denied.”

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Alberta resulting in 3,000 deaths annually. 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 as directed by its manufacturers.

To view the full survey results visit: https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/sites/ca.canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/files/uploads/files/yss12_flavoured_tobacco_use_20140910.pdf

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

 

Contact:

Les Hagen at 780-919-5546

Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295

Kate Chidester at 403-351-7047

 
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