Armed with a new public opinion poll showing overwhelming support, the Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the Wall government to ban the sale of all flavoured tobacco products. The Ipsos Reid poll found that 81 per cent of Saskatchewan residents support legislation to ban fruit and candy flavoured tobacco, including 63 per cent of smokers. The survey of 516 residents was conducted just before Christmas.
“These results clearly show that people in Saskatchewan want the Wall government to ban these deadly products which hook our youth,” says Donna Pasiechnik, Manager of tobacco control, media and government relations for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan. “The public understands the need to protect young people from the predatory marketing practices of the tobacco industry.”
In Canada, many categories of tobacco products are heavily flavoured, including cigarillos (little cigars), water pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and menthol cigarettes. The flavours include chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, strawberry, and other fruit and candy flavours that are appealing to youth.
These flavours mask the harsh taste of tobacco and make it easier for youth to become addicted.
Last fall the University of Waterloo released the results of a national Youth Smoking Survey which found that that more than half (54 per cent) of youth tobacco users in Saskatchewan had tried a flavoured tobacco product.
“Every day the tobacco industry loses customers who die from tobacco-related illnesses. They need to replace those customers by getting kids hooked,” says Pasiechnik.
To kick off National Non Smoking Week, the Society is also launching a new website this week that will allow the public to show its support for a ban on flavoured tobacco. By logging on to www.takeaction.cancer.ca, people can automatically send a letter of support to their MLA. “We know from this poll and talking to people that many are concerned about youth smoking. This website allows them to express those concerns directly to their elected official,” says Donna Ziegler, Director cancer control for the Society.
Saskatchewan has had the highest teen smoking in Canada for 10 years in a row. Twenty percent of 15-19 year olds smoke, compared to 11 per cent nationally.
“Banning these kids-friendly products is one of the easiest ways for government to tackle our high youth smoking rates. Alberta has already adopted legislation. Ontario has also introduced a bill. The sooner the Saskatchewan government acts, the sooner our youth will be protected,” added Pasiechnik.