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Tuesday, 23 September 2014 00:00

Health Ministers Urged to Join Alberta in Banning Flavoured Tobacco

-News Release -
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 

Banff –Health groups are urging all of the federal, provincial and territorial health ministers to join Alberta in banning flavoured tobacco products. The health ministers are gathered in Banff this week for their annual conference and flavoured tobacco is on the agenda. 

“We applaud the Alberta government for its strong leadership in protecting youth from flavoured tobacco products and we urge all health ministers to pursue similar laws in their own jurisdiction” said Leigh Allard with The Lung Association of Alberta/NWT. “Canada’s youth deserve first-class protection from flavoured tobacco products. We don’t need another patchwork of inconsistent and inadequate provincial and federal laws. Youth across Canada deserve just as much protection as youth in Alberta”. 

Last year, the Alberta government approved Bill 206 which bans all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. Bill 206 is currently awaiting final proclamation by the Alberta Cabinet and Alberta’s new Premier Jim Prentice recently pledged to follow through with the implementation of the bill. 

“We are delighted that flavoured tobacco is on the health ministers’ agenda and we hope that they will take a strong consensus position on this issue” said Kate Chidester with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “I can’t think of a more important role for any government than to protect children and youth from serious health hazards like tobacco. There are 153,000 Canadian adolescents using flavoured tobacco and there are 153,000 reasons why the health ministers need to take strong and coordinated action now. Protection delayed is protection denied.” 

A recent national survey of youth smoking commissioned by Health Canada revealed that 153,000 Canadian youth are using flavoured tobacco products—representing one-half of all youth tobacco users. The survey also revealed that menthol is the most popular flavour among youth. One in three youth smokers in Canada are using menthol cigarettes compared with only one in 25 adult smokers. 

“Menthol is the most popular flavour among youth” said Angeline Webb with the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division. “In order for any ban on flavoured tobacco to be effective, menthol flavourings must be included. Menthol increases smoking initiation and nicotine addiction among youth. Menthol soothes the throat, opens the airways and facilitates nicotine absorption into the bloodstream. We cannot allow tobacco companies to make tobacco more attractive, addictive and harmful to youth. All tobacco flavourings must be prohibited including menthol”. 

In 2009, the federal government approved Bill C-32 which was aimed at banning certain flavoured tobacco products such as cigarillos, flavoured blunt wraps and non-menthol cigarettes. However the bill exempted menthol cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigar and pipe tobacco. Due to omissions and loopholes, the bill has had little if any impact on youth tobacco use in Canada. 

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

Tobacco use is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death in Canada resulting in an estimated 38,000 deaths annually. 

Contact: 

Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546 (Edmonton) 

Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5295 (Edmonton)

 
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