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WHERE DO YOUR MUNICIPAL ELECTION CANDIDATES STAND ON CANNABIS AND TOBACCO?

ASH NEWS RELEASE

Friday, October 13, 2017

Edmonton - The results are in and 159 candidates from 20 major Alberta municipalities have responded to a recent ASH election survey on cannabis and tobacco.  The ASH candidates’ survey was conducted between October 2 and 11 and all of the individual responses are now posted online at www.ash.ca.

“Cannabis legalization has been a major issue during this election and local voters need to know where their candidates stand on this hot topic” said Les Hagen, executive director.  “The survey has identified champions and opponents of cannabis and tobacco regulation and we hope that voters will consider these responses prior to marking their election ballots on October 16” said Hagen.

ASH was very pleased with the number of respondents and with their overall responses to the survey.

“We are relieved to discover that only 25% of respondents feel that tobacco regulation should take a back seat to cannabis regulation” Hagen added.  “We are also pleased to learn that more than 70% of the candidates surveyed feel that tobacco and cannabis smoking should be banned in public areas.  Smoking bans must be expanded to include cannabis or it may lead to the renormalization of smoking in public places which could set back our collective efforts to reduce tobacco use.”

The survey also asked candidates about the licensing and zoning of tobacco and cannabis sales.  About three out of four respondents feel that the sale of cannabis should be licensed and zoned by their municipality.  Just over half of respondents want their municipality to license and zone tobacco sales.  At present, only six Alberta municipalities specifically license tobacco sales and there are no known zoning restrictions on tobacco sales in the province.

“The new councils will be scrambling to develop local bylaws to regulate the sale and use of cannabis in the months ahead” Hagen added.  “We encourage all municipal councils to pursue consistent restrictions on all forms of smoking in public areas.  Children and youths should not be exposed to any form of smoking in public.  Repeated childhood exposure to smoking behavior contributes to smoking initiation during adolescence.  We need to give all kids a fighting chance to remain smoke-free for life.”

ASH is also urging municipalities to license and zone the sale of tobacco especially if they are planning to license and zone the sale of cannabis.

“Tobacco kills 37 times more Canadians than cannabis and tobacco should not take a back seat to cannabis.  At a minimum, municipal councils should license all tobacco retailers and require all new tobacco retailers to conform with any zoning restrictions that are applied to cannabis retailers.”

Tobacco kills 3,000 Albertans annually and it is the most widespread and deadly form of substance abuse in Canada.  Founded in 1979, ASH is Western Canada’s leading tobacco control organization.

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Contact: Les Hagen at 780-919-5546

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ASH APPLAUDS ONTARIO GOVERNMENT FOR BANNING MENTHOL TOBACCO

Tuesday, May 25, 2015

Edmonton - Action on Smoking & Health is applauding the Ontario government for passing legislation to ban most forms of flavoured tobacco including menthol cigarettes.  Today, the Ontario government gave third reading to Bill 45, the Making Healthier Choices Act.  Ontario is the second province to ban menthol tobacco and other flavoured tobacco products.  Nova Scotia passed similar legislation last month.

“We congratulate the Ontario government for providing youth with first class protection from flavoured tobacco products” said Les Hagen, executive director.  “This legislation will protect thousands of youth from addiction, disease and premature death and it sets a benchmark for other provinces to follow.  In passing this bill, Ontario is making the health of its young people a top priority and it is putting an end to the tobacco industry’s devious efforts to target youth through appealing flavours.”

In 2013, the Alberta government was the first in North America to pass legislation to prohibit all forms of flavoured tobacco products.  Unfortunately, the Prentice government decided to exempt menthol tobacco last fall following intense lobbying by the tobacco industry.  The industry registered two-dozen lobbyists to fight the menthol ban including some with very close ties to the Prentice government.

“The Prentice government dropped the ball on menthol and left thousands of Alberta youth unprotected from flavoured tobacco products” said Hagen.  “Health groups and opposition parties roundly criticized this decision, including Rached Notley and the New Democrat opposition.  We urge the Notley government to right this terrible wrong and ban menthol tobacco as soon as possible.  Protection delayed is protection denied”.

The flawed Alberta flavoured tobacco regulations will take effect on Monday, June 1.  As it stands, the regulations completely exempt menthol flavoured tobacco and flavoured pipe tobacco.  Health groups are very concerned that this huge loophole will result in more youth using menthol tobacco.

“Sixty-five hundred Alberta youths are using menthol cigarettes and we fear that number may rise if youth switch from prohibited flavoured tobacco products to menthol tobacco.  There are 6,500 good reasons why the Notley government needs to ban menthol tobacco promptly.  There are 6,501 good reasons if you include the sharp reaction to the menthol exemption from Rachel Notley and the New Democrats.”

Menthol tobacco is a starter product that increases nicotine addiction among youth.  Menthol soothes the throat, opens the airways and facilitates nicotine absorption.  Youth smokers who use menthol smoke 60 percent more cigarettes than youth who do not smoke menthols.  One third of youth smokers are using menthol cigarettes compared with only 1 in 20 adults.

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

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Contact: Les Hagen @780-919-5546

 

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Action on Smoking & Health
ASH is Western Canada's leading tobacco control organization.