Following the steps of several provinces, Alberta will soon be banning all menthol tobacco products in the fall.
The move is part of an effort to eliminate flavoured tobacco products that officials claim contribute to youths becoming hooked on smoking. The idea being flavoured tobaccos, like grape cigarillos, are more enticing to teens to smoke, and would lead them down a path towards a lifetime of smoking.
“More than half of young tobacco users are using flavoured tobacco, whether it’s menthol or a fruit or candy flavour,” said Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman on Sunday. “By banning the sale of these products, we can reduce tobacco use among youth and help our children stay healthy. Removing the exemption of menthol also ensures a fair, consistent approach to flavoured tobacco.”
The Province of New Brunswick also announced last Friday that it would be the latest province to ban the sale of all flavoured tobacco products. Nova Scotia has also moved towards banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products, including menthol, which took effect on Sunday. Ontario has also proposed a similar ban.
Retailers in Alberta will no longer be permitted to sell flavoured tobacco products, excluding pipe tobacco and cigars above a certain weight and price. A minimum package size for certain tobacco products has also been set in order to stop youths from buying singular cigarettes at a cheaper price.
When the previous Progressive Conservative government first announced the ban in 2013, they stated that eliminating menthol tobacco products would unfairly target seniors and older smokers who are said to use the products more frequently.
At that time, the NDP criticized the exclusion. Now that the party is in power, they had the opportunity to go back and correct the decision so to speak.
Retailers will still be permitted to sell menthol tobacco products for the next four months in order to allow them to clear their stock before the ban rolls into effect on Sept. 30th.
“Menthol cigarettes are starter products that make it easier for youth to get hooked on tobacco,” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society. “The Canadian Cancer Society applauds the Government of Alberta for being a leader on this issue and taking this bold step that will help better protect our youth from the harmful health consequences of tobacco use.”
The next area lobbiers want both the provincial and federal governments to tackle is more regulation towards e-cigarettes and packaging for tobacco.
While for some a ban like this seems a little after-the-fact or perhaps unnecessary, any step made towards preventing a young person from picking up a pack of cigarettes is a step in the right direction.