Flavoured tobacco should be outlawed

The impact of flavoured tobacco on our youth deserves immediate attention from provincial government officials.

The impact of flavoured tobacco on our youth deserves immediate attention from provincial government officials.

With flavours like cherry, liquorice, chocolate mint and vanilla, these products are attracting an alarming number of youth in Alberta — who often are first-time users.

These enticing flavours are not the only way the tobacco industry is attracting youth to these products. Many of these products are packaged to resemble lip gloss or children’s markers and are brightly coloured and of similar size and shape.

Parents and teachers may not recognize these as tobacco products.

These marketing practices must be halted in order to help protect young Albertans from a lifelong addition to tobacco.

The latest Health Canada tobacco survey revealed some gloomy data about youth smoking in Alberta.

Within the past few years, sales of small flavoured cigars called cigarillos have increased over 1,000 times.

Smoking rates among teens aged 15 to 19 years have increased, while all other age categories decreased.

Health groups blame tobacco industry youth marketing tactics such as these candy-flavoured tobacco products for the higher youth smoking rates.

The increase in youth smoking rates is also directly related to the affordability of these products.

Due to higher wages many young Albertans earn in comparison to youth in other provinces, tobacco products relatively more affordable to Alberta youth. An increase in the cost of tobacco in Alberta, through higher tobacco taxes, would be an effective solution to this problem.

Evidence shows that youth are more price sensitive and that higher prices discourage the uptake of tobacco among youth.

The Ontario government has taken some action by implementing a provincial law that bans all flavoured cigarillos. A Calgary MLA is following suit by planning to introduce a bill to address flavoured tobacco products in Alberta.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also promised a ban on these products during the last federal election.

Strong legislation is needed to protect our children from the tobacco industry’s latest youth marketing strategy; candy-flavoured products packaged in ways that appeal to kids.

Tobacco is the No. 1 preventable cause of illness and premature death among Canadians.

By removing all flavoured tobacco products, we will help to prevent the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of youth tobacco users.

Gail Foreman

Action on Smoking and Health

Media Spokesperson

Red Deer