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Health groups urge Notley government to protect Alberta youth by banning menthol tobacco
Thursday, 28 May 2015 07:59

Flawed tobacco regulations exempting menthol to take effect Monday, June 1

News Release – Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Edmonton – The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is calling on the Notley government to protect thousands of Alberta youth from addiction, disease and premature death by banning menthol tobacco.  Sixty-five hundred (6,500) Alberta youth in grades 6 to 12 are using menthol tobacco according to the latest national Youth Smoking Survey

“We urge the Notley government to right a terrible wrong and to provide Alberta youth with first-class protection from flavoured tobacco products by banning menthol tobacco” said Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  “There are 6,500 good reasons why the government needs to ban menthol tobacco.  There are 6,501 good reasons if you include the sharp reaction to the menthol exemption by the New Democrat opposition”.

Last fall, the Prentice government introduced new tobacco flavouring regulations that exempt menthol tobacco and flavoured pipe tobacco.  Health groups and opposition parties—including the New Democrats—roundly criticized the government’s decision to exempt menthol and to overlook the most popular tobacco flavouring among youth.

“The new regulations are fatally flawed since they do not apply to the most popular flavoured tobacco product among youth” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division.  “One-third of youth smokers are using menthol cigarettes compared to only 1 in 20 adults.  Menthol cigarettes are starter products that make it easier for youth to get hooked on tobacco and to suffer the horrible health consequences down the road”.

Menthol soothes the throat, opens the airways and facilitates nicotine absorption.  Young people who smoke menthols smoke 60 percent more cigarettes than youth smokers who do not use menthols.

Since last fall, the provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario have all introduced legislation to ban flavoured tobacco products including menthol tobacco.  The Ontario bill was passed on May 26.  The Nova Scotia ban takes effect on May 31.  The Quebec bill is expected to pass this spring.

Alberta was the first province to pass legislation to ban all flavoured tobacco products.  However the Prentice government decided to exempt menthol following intense lobbying by the tobacco industry.  The industry registered over 20 lobbyists to fight for a menthol exemption.

“We cannot allow tobacco lobbyists to dictate public health in Alberta” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health (ASH).  “We urge the Notley government to give Alberta youth the protection they deserve.  The menthol exemption can be easily removed in one Cabinet meeting.  Protection delayed is protection denied”.

The coalition has launched an online petition urging the Notley government to ban menthol tobacco.  The petition is posted at www.smokefreealberta.com.

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Contact:

Kate Chidester @ 403-351-7047
Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5495
Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546
 
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