Youth using flavoured tobacco products at very high levels

Canadian Cancer Society calls for ban on all flavoured tobacco to curb youth smoking

TORONTO, Oct. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - New data released today from the national Youth Smoking Survey show that a very high number of high school students are using flavoured tobacco products. More than half (52%) of high school students in Canada who used tobacco products in the previous 30 days had used flavoured tobacco products. Fruit- and candy-flavoured tobacco makes it easier for youth to become addicted to tobacco.

"These survey results clearly show there is an urgent and compelling need for federal and provincial governments to ban all flavoured tobacco products," says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. "Swift action is needed to protect youth from these products. It is essential that governments introduce new legislation without delay."

The federal Tobacco Act prohibits flavours (except menthol) in cigarettes, cigarillos (little cigars) and blunt wraps. However, cigarillos are defined as cigars weighing 1.4 grams or less or having a cigarette filter. Many tobacco companies have avoided this definition by increasing the weight to more than 1.4 grams, which allows them to continue to add flavours to the product.

In Canada, many categories of tobacco products remain heavily flavoured and are not prohibited by federal legislation, including cigarillos (weighing more than 1.4g), water pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and menthol cigarettes. Flavours include chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, strawberry, and other fruit and candy flavours that are appealing to youth.

"These alarming data are a wake-up call that more government action is needed to protect our youth from becoming addicted to tobacco products," says Steve Manske, Senior Scientist, Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo. "Flavoured tobacco products were used by almost 170,000 Canadian high school students."

The Youth Smoking Survey found that among high school students 14% had smoked cigarettes in the previous 30 days (237,100 students); 20% had used a tobacco product in the previous 30 days (327,000 students); and 10% had used a flavoured tobacco product (including menthol cigarettes) in the previous 30 days (169,300 students).

The Youth Smoking Survey also showed that almost a third (32%) of youth smokers had smoked menthol cigarettes in the previous 30 days, totalling 75,200 students. This new information about the high popularity of menthol cigarettes among youth contrasts with a low level of popularity among adults, with menthol cigarettes representing only 4% of all cigarettes sold to adults in Canada.

"Menthol soothes the throat and reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke for youth who are experimenting," says Cunningham. "Menthol cigarettes make it easier for young people to smoke and get addicted and must also be banned."

Menthol was exempted from federal legislation because at the time data were not available about the prevalence of youth smoking menthol cigarettes.

"With this new data clearly showing that many young people are smoking menthol products, the menthol loophole must be closed," says Cunningham.

The Youth Smoking Survey is conducted every 2 years. The most recent survey results are from the survey conducted between October 2010 and June 2011 with 50,949 students participating across Canada. The analysis of the Youth Smoking Survey data on flavoured tobacco released today was prepared by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo. To read the full survey: (link to PDF: Survey Flavoured Tobacco use YSS 2013 1007)

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2013/10/07/20131007_C7533_DOC_EN_31729.pdf

PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2013/10/07/20131007_C7533_DOC_EN_31730.pdf

SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

For further information:

Rob Cunningham
Senior Policy Analyst
613-565-2522, ext. 4981
rcunning@cancer.ca

Images available for media: sample packages of flavoured tobacco products. (link to PDF: Flavoured tobacco—Canada—examples - Oct. 2013)


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