Provincial Government Support Clears Way for Health Minister Rona Ambrose to ban menthol tobacco

OTTAWA, June 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Health organizations today urged Health Minister Rona Ambrose to move quickly to ban menthol and other flavoured tobacco now that there is support from all provinces for a federal ban.

On Monday June 22, Minister Ambrose had indicated that she supported a ban on menthol tobacco but that Saskatchewan was blocking consensus among provinces for a federal ban.  On Wednesday June 24, however, Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan stated that Saskatchewan won't stand in the way of a federal ban on menthol tobacco and would abide by a federal decision to do so.

On June 22, speaking to reporters in Edmonton, Minister Ambrose had stated:  "It's hard for the federal government to regulate the whole country when we couldn't get consensus. Saskatchewan in particular was not willing to go ahead with a menthol ban so we excluded menthol.  … Smoking is one of the largest killers in this country, and we don't want cigarettes in any way to be, you know, to taste better, so I fully support a ban on menthol."

On June 24, speaking on CJME radio in Regina, Saskatchewan Health Minister Duncan stated: "Makes sense to have the federal government involved to essentially provide some leadership in this country, so we can avoid the type of patchwork that we're going to see now, that we are seeing across the country ...  If the federal minister wants to do this, she can do so without the consent of Saskatchewan. In fact, we haven't been even posed that question in that manner. I would say that we're not going to stand in the way of that. It's not like we're talking about amending the constitution. If the federal government wants to ban menthol products, they're free to do that, and Saskatchewan would abide by it."

The Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco, comprised of leading health organizations, states that the position from Saskatchewan clears the way for Minister Ambrose to implement the federal ban on flavoured tobacco including menthol that the Minister fully supports.

In the absence of needed federal action on flavoured tobacco, six provinces (AB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PEI) have brought forward legislation to ban flavoured tobacco including menthol.

The national Youth Smoking Survey for the 2012-13 school year found that among high school students who use tobacco, 50% use flavoured tobacco.  Among high school students who smoke, 29% smoke menthol, while among high school students who smoke daily, 43% smoke menthol.

The Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco is a national coalition of health organizations. Members include: Action on Smoking and Health, the Canadian Cancer Society,  the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, the Canadian Lung Association, the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

 

SOURCE Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco

For further information: Dr. Geneviève Bois, Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, 514-602-2508; Cynthia Callard, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, 613-600-5794; Lorraine Fry, Non-Smokers' Rights Association, 416-726-6861; Les Hagen, Action on Smoking and Health, 780-919-5546; Stephanie Lawrence, Heart and Stroke Foundation, 613-691-4022

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Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco

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