Alberta government hasn’t decided whether to proceed with ban on menthol tobacco

Health advocates fear part of Alberta’s flavoured tobacco legislation that would ban menthol may go up in smoke.

EDMONTON — Health advocates fear part of Alberta’s flavoured tobacco legislation that would ban menthol may go up in smoke.

Cathy Gladwin asked Health Minister Stephen Mandel and Premier Jim Prentice about the law last week when they knocked on her door while they were campaigning in Edmonton, where Mandel hopes to win a seat in a byelection.

Gladwin, who is on the board of the Alberta Public Health Association, said she asked them not to exempt menthol from the legislation, which was passed last fall, but has not yet been put into effect.

She said Mandel told her that banning menthol is a difficult challenge. He would not give her any assurances, she said.

“It sounds like it is a no-go on menthol,” she said in an interview. “That was definitely my impression, that they were going to let menthol be exempt.

“I did say to them, ’If you don’t include menthol, it won’t prevent youth from taking up smoking.”’

Bill 206 calls for banning flavoured tobacco products, but doesn’t specifically mention menthol or any other flavour.

The legislation is aimed at restricting the sale of tobacco products that are designed to attract young people. But the law gives the government the authority to apply the ban to everyone.

Mandel said the government is wrestling with what to do about menthol as it develops regulations that will flesh out the law.

When asked in an interview if the province remains committed to a ban on menthol, including cigarettes, Mandel said he couldn’t give a definitive answer.

“I don’t want to answer yes or no to things that are still up in the air,” he told The Canadian Press. “Menthol is the one that is still up in the air.”

Mandel said there is some concern the province could face a legal challenge, but there have been no threats of a lawsuit.

He suggested some people in the government are worried about public support for a ban even though the legislation passed with almost unanimous support.

“There are differing opinions as to what the impact of it could be on individuals and individual rights, things like that,” he said.

Is the concern because a ban would also apply to adults?

“I am not at this point in time going to comment on that, but I think if you ban, you ban, don’t you?”

Mandel said the government would indicate where it stands on menthol before the end of the year.

Health groups across the country have been holding Alberta up as an example that other governments should follow when it comes to flavoured tobacco legislation.

On Sept. 30, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Lung Association urged all health ministers to join Alberta in banning flavoured tobacco products.

They cited surveys that suggest that menthol is the most popular flavoured tobacco product among youths and that one in three young people who smoke prefer menthol cigarettes.

The cancer society said any legitimate ban on flavoured tobacco must include menthol.

Alberta isn’t the only government that has grappled with what to do about the minty tobacco flavour.

The federal government exempted menthol from its flavoured tobacco ban legislation in 2009.

Ontario introduced a bill to restrict access to flavoured tobacco, but exempted menthol. The proposed legislation died in June when a provincial election was called.

The Ontario Medical Association is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to reintroduce the bill and to include a ban on menthol cigarettes.

The association said underage smokers who use menthol cigarettes smoke more often and are more likely to continue later in life.

Alberta’s uncertainty about menthol has anti-smoking advocates fuming.

Les Hagen of Action on Smoking and Health said the province has been heavily lobbied by the tobacco industry about its legislation.

He said the industry will lose money if there is a menthol ban in Alberta and the idea takes hold in other provinces.

“We are hoping the Alberta government will step in and ensure that this legislation meets its full potential,” Hagen said.

“If there is a menthol exemption or any other significant exemption — that will undermine the integrity of the bill itself and it will severely undermine the health of Alberta youth.”

Mandel, who was appointed health minister one month ago, said he hasn’t met with tobacco industry representatives and doesn’t plan to.

He said the government is well aware of the industry’s position.

Just Posted

Manslaughter charge laid against Red Deer man more than a year after homicide

A manslaughter charge has been laid against a Red Deer man, more… Continue reading

Woman facing charges after pedestrian critically injured in hit and run

A woman is in custody in connection with an alleged hit and… Continue reading

Friday hail storm came at a bad time for farmers

Amount of damage a hail storm does often depends on how far along crops are

Updated: SUV smashes through fences and deck in Anders

Driver taken to hospital after SUV veered off 30th Avenue into Anders

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… Continue reading

Trimming and tidying: Perennials need care too

The great attraction in growing perennial flowers is that you never have… Continue reading

Johnny Depp settles lawsuits involving former managers

LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp has settled lawsuits with his former business… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month