MONTREAL, Jan. 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Anti-tobacco groups in the province of Alberta have duped the government into moving towards banning flavoured tobacco products, by aggressively prompting and promoting information that is recklessly misleading. Consequently, the government of Alberta is on the verge of throwing away tens of millions of dollars in legitimate annual tax revenues - while seriously undermining the rights of thousands of legitimate business owners and half a million smokers/voters across the province.
The Tobacco Reduction (Flavoured Tobacco Products) Amendment Act, 2013 - formerly known as Bill 206 - passed Third Reading on November 25th, 2013 and received Royal Assent on December 11th, 2013. The law is currently awaiting Proclamation through an Order in Council and no specific regulations have yet been identified.
Legitimate industry stakeholders across the province are now actively reaching out to the government demanding a Stay of Proclamation and/or any subsequent eventual regulations.
"We have contacted key Cabinet Ministers and Premier Redford, effectively asking them to stop and actually think about this one before it's too late", says Luc Martial - VP in charge of Government Affairs at Casa Cubana. Mr. Martial is also a longstanding tobacco control expert in Canada, having (of relevance to this file) worked at Health Canada in the Offices of Research, Surveillance & Evaluation and Policy & Planning within the Tobacco Control Program. His unique experience in tobacco control further include postings with the Non-Smokers' Rights Association of Canada, the Canadian Council on Smoking and Health, and the National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health.
In Alberta, Casa Cubana legally distributes flavoured little cigar products such as Prime Time and Bullseye, through more than 2,500 licenced retailers servicing more than 500,000 tobacco customers. Sales of these two products alone generate more than $11 million in provincial tax revenues every year.
The health groups' recent and unjustified attack against flavoured tobacco products found momentum and support from a report issued by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact. The report, however, raises serious concerns - as it omitted key data arguably proving that flavours in tobacco products do not entice or encourage kids to start smoking.
THE PROPEL CENTRE REPORT - the Smoking Gun for the industry
The Propel Centre for Population Health Impact (University of Waterloo) was contracted by Health Canada to conduct the Youth Smoking Survey (YSS) for 2010-2011. All of the data collected is available on the Health Canada website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/_survey-sondage_2010-2011/result-eng.php.
The Propel Centre then decided to make public their own interpretation of most (but not all) of the data they had collected on flavoured tobacco use among high school kids - acknowledging in their report that their findings did not necessarily reflect the views of Health Canada. Their report (Flavoured Tobacco Use Among Canadian Youth: Evidence from Canada's 2010/2011 Youth Smoking Survey) was made public on October 7, 2013.
"From that point on, anti-tobacco groups in the province began prompting and promoting the Propel Centre's narrow interpretation of the YSS data - in a manner that can arguably be described as abusive and grossly misleading. The media attention which followed fueled the fire which led the government of Alberta to rush to regulate a product and industry it knew absolutely nothing about", said Mr. Martial.
THE SMOKING GUN in their report is the omission of the YSS data which looked at the percentage of kids who had never tried smoking before - but who did try a flavoured tobacco product in the previous 30 days of the survey.
"This omission is both disconcerting and highly suspicious. From an honest tobacco control standpoint, this is the most important data pertaining to the issue of flavours in tobacco products and the health groups' contention that they entice or encourage kids to start smoking", said Mr. Martial.
The Propel Centre, at the very least, should have known that anti-tobacco groups would be using their report findings to propagandize their position that flavours in tobacco products both target and encourage kids to smoke - while leveraging the University of Waterloo's reputation as a way to lend credence to their longstanding call for a ban on flavoured tobacco products.
"And of all of the YSS data it collected for Health Canada, that the Propel Centre would choose to issue a public report on flavoured tobacco use as an implied priority among today's high school youth is also questionable in choice. They knew that the YSS data clearly showed that flavoured tobacco took a back (way back) seat to much more prevalent youth health priorities - (i.e. Alcohol use, binge drinking, marijuana use)", said Mr. Martial.
THE TRUTH ABOUT FLAVOURED TOBACCO PRODUCTS - According to Health Canada
THE CANADIAN TOBACCO USE MONITORING SURVEY CLEARLY CONFIRMS:
CTUMS data can be found at the Health Canada website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/index-eng.php
THE YOUTH SMOKING SURVEY CLEARLY CONFIRMS THAT:
"That publicly funded health groups in Alberta have focused their efforts and wasted the people's time and tax dollars on wanting to ban flavoured tobacco products in the province - as a way to allegedly address a pressing youth health crisis - is a perfect example of the immediate need for review of and accountability on public funding in government. Action by these groups, on this file alone, not only justifies but warrants funding termination", said Mr. Martial.
THE BOTTOM LINE
"Based on my professional background and experience in tobacco control and with the anti-tobacco movement in Canada - I think it's fair to say that some groups have intentionally exploited the Propel Centre's limited interpretation of the YSS data as a way to effectively misdirect the public's attention and blindside government into making an extremely poor legislative decision. For other youth-oriented groups who keep emerging on the flavoured tobacco issue and tugging at politicians' heartstrings - their efforts and voices are simply misguided. These youth organizations, these wide-eyed kids, are obviously all well-meaning and should be commended for their interest in wanting to contribute to their communities and society in general - but the fact remains that they do not have the experience, maturity or mandate to understand the information given to them or more importantly challenge its validity and credibility. So they unfortunately, simply become BIG ANTI-TOBACCO's pawns and puppets - and in the end their involvement only comes to cloud the government's judgement and productive public policies on tobacco" said Mr. Martial.
OUR CALL TO GOVERNMENT
Casa Cubana is a Montreal-based importer of quality cigar products (flavoured and unflavoured). Established in 1998, the company's reach extends throughout Canada with a sales force servicing approximately 10,000+ direct accounts - to include wholesalers, retail chains, independent retailers, gas bars, grocery stores and the duty-free channel. In Alberta, the company distributes its products to more than 2,500 licenced retail clients servicing more than half a million legal-age smokers.
Image with caption: "Casa Cubana (CNW Group/Casa Cubana)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140127_C5402_PHOTO_EN_35936.jpg
SOURCE: Casa Cubana
For further information:
VP Government Affairs
Cell: (819) 743-9140