Sweet tasting cigarillos under fire from health advocates
Health Minister Doug Currie is encouraging Health Canada to bring in a national ban on candy-flavoured tobacco products.
Currie said he sent a letter to that effect, a letter that is currently on its way to Health Canada.
Opposition MLA James Aylward moved a motion on the floor of the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday night calling on the MLAs to come together in favour of banning the product in the province. The motion passed unanimously.
At present, candy-flavoured tobacco products cannot be sold on P.E.I. to anyone under the age of 19 but if the ban MLAs are hoping for ever comes to pass, the product wouldn’t be sold at all.
Flavoured tobacco products on the market now include little cigars and cigarillos, menthol cigarettes, spit tobacco and waterpipe tobacco.
“Right now, there’s no legislation passed in the country to ban candy-flavoured cigarettes but there is certainly a move afoot by the provinces and we’re one of them,’’ Currie told The Guardian following question period in the legislature Wednesday.
“I, as minister, will be sending a letter and we are advocating and encouraging Health Canada to make a national ban of the candy-flavoured (products) across the country.’’
Currie said the focus in the meantime will be making sure stores are not selling these or any other tobacco products to minors.
Aylward said his inspiration for moving the original motion was his 18-year-old son.
“I saw what was happening at (his) high school over the last number of years, the increased use (of candy-flavoured tobacco products),’’ Aylward said, who noted he sits on the board of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. division, and is privy to the increased use of the product by youths.
A national survey last year found more than half of Canadian high school students say they’ve tried smoking flavoured tobacco products.
The Canadian Cancer Society and other provincial organizations feel the products are being marketed to youth with their bright packaging and flavours, such as strawberry, chocolate and watermelon.
In the legislature, Aylward called that marketing strategy “shameful’’. In an interview with The Guardian later he wasn’t using softer language.
“I think it’s disgusting that these companies are allowed to target our youth to try and get them addicted in this fashion. I think it’s incumbent upon government to do something to stop it.’’
Pressure from the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. division, led to a ban on minors using tanning beds, for example, two years ago.
“It’s a process. It’s a tool that we have to operate as Opposition on behalf of Islanders, to bring issues forward and part of it is what we’re doing here right now,’’ Aylward said, referring both the motion and having the media do a story on it.