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Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00

Health Groups Intend to Make Bill 206 a By-Election Issue

News Release – Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta
For Release Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A coalition of prominent health organizations intends to make Bill 206 a focal issue in the upcoming provincial by-elections.

Bill 206 is still awaiting final proclamation by Cabinet, almost one year after receiving near-unanimous all-party support in the Legislative Assembly last fall.  When fully implemented, Bill 206 will ban all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes which have been shown to increase smoking initiation and addiction among youth.

“We are very concerned with the delay of Bill 206 and we intend to rally our supporters to raise this issue with their local candidates during the provincial by-elections” said Leigh Allard with The Lung Association of Alberta and NWT.  “We are going to stand up for Alberta youth for as long as it takes to get this bill proclaimed.  Of course, the Premier and Cabinet are very welcome to pre-empt our plans by proclaiming Bill 206 without exemptions at their earliest convenience.”

At a leadership candidates’ forum held last month, Jim Prentice stated that he would proclaim Bill 206 if elected Premier.

“We urge the Premier and his Cabinet to protect thousands of Alberta youth from tobacco addiction by proclaiming Bill 206 immediately and without exemptions” said Angeline Webb with the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division.  “The Premier promised to proclaim Bill 206 and we hope that he will deliver on his commitment as soon as possible.  More than two-thousand adolescents have started using flavoured tobacco products since Bill 206 was passed.  We cannot allow tobacco companies to continue targeting kids with this shameless marketing ploy.  Protection delayed is protection denied.”

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.

“The Premier and his Cabinet have an opportunity to protect thousands of Alberta youth from addiction, disease and premature death by proclaiming Bill 206 without exemptions” said Kate Chidester with 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 Alberta youth using flavoured tobacco products and there are 20,000 reasons why the Alberta government needs to proclaim Bill 206 immediately and without exemptions.  Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from flavoured tobacco products”.

A recent national survey of youth smoking commissioned by Health Canada revealed that 20,600 Alberta youth in grades 6 to 12 are using flavoured tobacco products—representing 53 percent of all youth tobacco users.  The survey also revealed that menthol is the most popular flavour among youth.  One in three youth smokers in Alberta are using menthol cigarettes compared with only one in 25 adult smokers. 

Tobacco use is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Alberta resulting in 3,000 deaths annually.

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Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546 (Edmonton)

Kristin Matthews @ 403-981-8586 (Calgary)

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