WHY IT’S TIME
The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, is calling on the BC government to follow the lead of three other Canadian provinces and move forward with a ban on flavoured tobacco products. Banning flavoured products has the potential to prevent new smokers from starting to smoke which will improve the health of British Columbians.
The tobacco industry’s development of fruit and candy flavoured tobacco products is a deliberate marketing strategy aimed at enticing children to start smoking. Chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, strawberry and cotton-candy are some of the many fruit and candy flavours that appeal to youth. What’s more, these products are packaged to attract youth in bright, colourful wrapping often resembling popular chewing gum brands or cosmetics.
While the bright packaging and fruity flavours may seem harmless, flavoured tobacco is just as addictive and dangerous as regular cigarettes. For youth experimenting with smoking, flavoured tobacco reduces the harsh effects of cigarette smoke, making it easier for users to become addicted to tobacco. Menthol is especially harmful as its cooling properties allow users to inhale smoke more deeply and enhance nicotine absorption which increases the risk for health problems.
In Canada, a national youth smoking survey found that more than half of high school students who smoke use flavoured tobacco. In British Columbia, 53% of high school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days had used flavoured products. This means that 30,500 BC students or more have tried flavoured tobacco. Menthol flavoured products are also gaining popularity among youth, and are now considered to be significantly more popular among youth than adults.
Limitations of federal legislation
Currently there is federal legislation governing flavoured tobacco products. However, due to loopholes in the legislation, many types of tobacco products are still heavily flavoured including: cigarillos (little cigars), water pipe tobacco or hookah, smokeless tobacco, and menthol cigarettes.
In July 2009, the Canadian federal government introduced Bill C-32 to amend Canada’s Tobacco Act. Bill C-32 aimed to prevent youth from starting smoking by banning certain flavour additives in cigarillos, cigarettes, and blunt wrappers (sheets or tubes). Bill C-32 also placed a limit on how cigarillos and blunt wraps are sold, so that these products would not be available in single or small quantity packs that are affordable to youth.
The problem with Bill C-32 is that tobacco companies are able to avoid following these rules because of a description in the wording. Bill C-32 defines cigars as weighing 1.4g or less, or having a cigarette filter. Unfortunately, by increasing the weight of the cigarillo to more than 1.4g, tobacco companies can continue to add flavours to their products and sell them in small packs or as singles. Bill C-32 also does not include menthol or other flavoured products, such as chewing tobacco from being sold.
The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon division is calling on the BC government to ban all flavoured tobacco products as soon as possible in order to reduce the number of tobacco related deaths in BC.
Each year, tobacco kills over 6,000 British Columbians and costs the BC economy upwards of $2.3 billion. Smoking causes approximately 30% of all cancer deaths, and is responsible for 85% of lung cancer cases. As the majority of smokers start when they are young, a ban on flavoured products could prevent a lifetime of addiction and potential disease for thousands of British Columbians.
The Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba provincial governments currently have bills in legislature that will ban candy and fruit flavoured tobacco products. Other provinces have also indicated they are considering similar legislation. In BC, the Official Opposition introduced Bill M 211, the Tobacco Control Amendment Act, 2014 on April 30, 2014. This bill would ban flavours, including menthol, in all tobacco products. The BC Ministry of Health has requested the federal government act on flavoured tobacco and has stated that it will take action if the federal government does not do so. The Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon hopes the BC government will be just as progressive as other provinces by banning all flavours of all types of tobacco products.
How you can take action
Currently the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon is actively seeking a ban on flavoured tobacco products, but to be successful we need your help. Help us raise awareness about flavoured tobacco and use your voice to ask the BC government for a ban. Follow this link to write your local MLA, BC Health Minister and BC Health Critic about why it is time to end the flavour.
You can also get involved by sharing this information and encouraging friends, family and colleagues to take action. Please share the take action link on your social media channels and join in the twitterverse discussion by using the hashtag #endtheflavour. You can also check out our facebook page at www.facebook.com/CanadianCancerSocietyBCY and our twitter account @cancersocietybc. To be further involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download the Flavoured Tobacco Petition here.Anyone of any age is welcome to sign the flavoured tobacco petition. Once the petition is complete, it can be mailed to or dropped off at your local Canadian Cancer Society office with the attention of the Health Promotion Coordinator. The petition can also be scanned and emailed to email@example.com
Attn: Health Promotion Coordinator
565 West 10th Avenue