Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and premature death in Canada. We are making inroads, but the most vulnerable among us are still smoking in unacceptable numbers.
The latest National Youth Smoking Survey revealed that 52 per cent of Canadian high school students who had used tobacco products in the previous 30 days had used flavoured products.
The Federal Tobacco Act prohibits flavours other than menthol in cigarettes and cigarillos (cigars weighing less than 1.4 grams). But some tobacco companies have found a way around the law by increasing the weight of cigarillos to more than 1.4 grams which allows them to add flavours, such as chocolate and strawberry, to the product. These are appealing to youth and young adults, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will start smoking.
Canadian provinces are considering banning flavoured tobacco. The Heart and Stroke Foundation strongly urges the provincial government to do the same. Swift action is needed to product our youth from the tragic health consequences of tobacco use.
Heather Percy, director, health promotion and resuscitation programs, Newfoundland and Labrador Heart and Stroke Foundation