Flavoured cigarillos off store shelves July 5

Canada leads the way with tough new legislation to protect children

TORONTO, June 29 /CNW/ - Canada's tough new anti-tobacco law, Bill C-32, comes into effect at stores near you on July 5. Retailers will no longer be allowed to sell fruit- and candy-flavoured cigarillos (little cigars), cigarettes, and blunt wraps (rolling papers made of tobacco).

"This is the best legislation in the world restricting flavoured tobacco," says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. "We applaud the federal government and parliament for standing up to the tobacco industry.

"There is simply no justification for tobacco products to be flavoured with candy, ice cream and fruit flavours. The risk is that these flavoured products can be a starter product for kids who would never otherwise start smoking. This bill is going to protect our kids from starting smoking and encourage more adults to quit."

In fact, according to the most recent Youth Smoking Survey, there is a shockingly high rate of youth experimentation with cigarillos, almost all of which are flavoured. The survey for the 2008-09 school year found that 40 per cent of students in grades 10-12 had tried smoking cigarillos, and that 18 per cent had done so in the past month.

As of July 5, store-owners caught selling the illegal tobacco products will be subject to potential enforcement action, including fines.

Meanwhile, some recent news reports suggest that tobacco manufacturers may try to find loopholes in the new legislation so they can continue to sell flavoured cigarillos. But, in response to this, Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq issued a statement June 24 saying, in part: "Not only does this action go against the intent of the legislation; it endangers the health of Canada's children. We will deal with this issue and will continue working to ensure that Canada's children are protected from the dangers of tobacco."

The Canadian Cancer Society applauds the Minister's quick, no-nonsense response.

The federal tobacco control bill follows a commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the 2008 federal election. The bill was introduced in parliament in May, 2009 by Health Minister Aglukkaq. All political parties came together to support the bill and it was passed into law on October 8, 2009. Retailers were given nine months (270 days) - until July 5 - to remove the products from their shelves.

"This was an example of parliament at its best - putting partisanship aside and approving an important bill that will protect kids and fight cancer," says Dan Demers, Director, National Public Issues for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Some provincial governments are also taking action. In Ontario, similar provincial legislation to ban flavoured cigarillos will come into force on July 1. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have also adopted similar provincial legislation, but it is not in effect yet.

Bill C-32 also banned all tobacco advertising in Canadian newspapers and magazines, effective October 8, 2009.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to fightback.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888 939-3333.

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

For further information: For further information: Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society, (613) 565-2522, ext. 305

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