Call for flavoured tobacco ban as health ministers meet

Ban is already passed in Alberta and expected to be phased in from late this year

BANFF, Alta. – Health groups want other governments to follow Alberta’s lead and pass legislation to ban flavoured tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

Alberta’s law was passed last December and is to be phased in over time, starting later this year.

On Monday, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said her government is proposing regulatory amendments that would further restrict access to flavoured tobacco products.

Flavoured tobacco is on the agenda at the provincial-territorial health ministers’ conference, which starts today in Banff, Alta.

Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation says governments need to protect young people from the serious health hazards of tobacco.

She says an estimated 153,000 adolescents in Canada use flavoured tobacco products.

The Canadian Cancer Society says for such a ban to be effective, it must include menthol cigarettes.

“Menthol is the most popular flavour among youth,” Angeline Webb, a society spokeswoman, says in a release. “We cannot allow tobacco companies to make tobacco more attractive, addictive and harmful to youth.”

The coalition of health groups notes the federal government approved legislation in 2009 aimed at banning some flavoured tobacco products.

But it says the bill exempted menthol cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigar and pipe tobacco.

The groups say this omission means that legislation has not been effective in reducing tobacco use by young people.

“We don’t need another patchwork of inconsistent and inadequate provincial and federal laws,” said Leigh Allard of the Lung Association of Alberta/N.W.T.

“Youth across Canada deserve just as much protection as youth in Alberta.”

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