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.


Contact: Les Hagen @780-919-5546


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