By Keith Leslie
Ontario will follow Alberta’s lead and introduce legislation to ban all sales of candy-flavoured tobacco products.
The Ontario bill would extend an existing restriction on selling candy- and fruit-flavoured cigarillos and chewing tobacco to youth to a total prohibition. There would be an exemption for menthol-flavoured products which are preferred by adults.
It would also ban other flavoured products such as twist sticks, dissolvable strips and lozenges if they contain tobacco, but not if they have only nicotine without tobacco.
The Canadian Cancer Society warns the lozenges, which look like candies and come in colourful packages, contain three times as much nicotine as a smoked cigarette.
Flavoured tobacco products are one of the few remaining ways tobacco companies can legally market to kids, and the Ontario government believes many youth start smoking with cigarillos that taste like chocolate or strawberry.
The Ontario legislation is one of several initiatives to be announced Wednesday by Health Minister Deb Matthews to prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne announced last week his government would adopt a private member’s bill aimed at stopping the sale of flavoured tobacco to everyone, not just to minors.
Ontario passed a private member’s bill by New Democrat France Gelinas in 2010 that prohibited stores from selling flavoured cigarillos to youth.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation said companies were targeting youth with flavours like “grapes gone wild,” “appletini,” or “cherry vanilla,” and warned parents “have to be very concerned with the ability of the industry to adapt and change and work around legislation.”
The producers of the flavoured cigarillos complained Gelinas should be targeting illegal tobacco products, but she found some major companies like Imperial Tobacco supported her legislation to ban candy flavoured cigarillos. They don’t produce the cigarillos and fear those products are cutting into their market share, said Gelinas.
“You make interesting friends in that business,” she joked.