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Health groups urge the Alberta government to ban menthol cigarettes by proclaiming Bill 206
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 00:00
News Release:Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo has revealed that Canadian menthol smokers in grades 6 to 12 are smoking significantly more cigarettes than non-menthol smokers. The study also revealed menthol smokers are three times less likely to quit smoking than non-menthol smokers. The study is published in this month’s Cancer Causes & Control.

“This alarming study confirms that menthol cigarettes are more addictive and harmful for youth than unflavoured cigarettes” said Jeff Cummings with The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT. “Accordingly, these results justify a complete ban on menthol cigarettes. We urge the Alberta government to proclaim Bill 206 immediately without exemptions to give youth first-class protection from menthol cigarettes and other flavoured tobacco products.”

Last fall, the Legislative Assembly approved Bill 206 -- the Tobacco Reduction (Flavoured Tobacco Products) Amendment Act. This bill provides the Alberta government with the authority to ban all flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. Bill 206 represents the strongest legislation of its kind in North America. The bill is awaiting final proclamation by Alberta’s cabinet and health groups are very concerned about the delay in its implementation.

“Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes” said Angeline Webb with the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division. “Every day of delay on Bill 206 is another victory for the tobacco lobby. The Alberta government now has one more reason to proclaim this bill without further delay and without any exemptions. Protection delayed is protection denied”.

The tobacco industry has hired over two-dozen lobbyists to fight Bill 206 and other tobacco control measures. Health groups believe that the tobacco industry has no legitimate role in developing public health policy designed to prevent the industry from targeting youth. The majority of tobacco users start before the age of eighteen and the tobacco industry uses flavoured tobacco products to attract and retain youth smokers.

“An unprecedented number of tobacco lobbyists are attempting to derail Bill 206” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health. “We hope that the Alberta government will do the right thing and protect Alberta youth from the predatory marketing practices of this unscrupulous industry. We cannot allow tobacco companies to prey on our youth and to dictate public health in Alberta.”

According to the national Youth Smoking Survey of students in grades 6 to 12, about one-third of youth smokers are using menthol cigarettes. In sharp contrast, only four per cent of Canadian adults are smoking menthol cigarettes according to the latest International Tobacco Control survey.The Alberta government is suing the tobacco industry for $10 billion for alleged fraudulent and negligent practices including “targeting youth and adolescents with…misrepresentations and deceptions knowing their particular vulnerabilities”.

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of disease, disability and premature death and it claims the lives of 3,000 Albertans annually.

Jeff Cummings at 780-616-1746
Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295
Les Hagen at 780-919-5546

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