Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, on June 18 announced the adoption of new measures that will further restrict flavors in cigars that could appeal to youth.
In 2009, the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act banned the use of certain additives—including flavors like chocolate and bubble gum—in cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps in an effort to make them less attractive to children and young adults.
Manufacturers, however, began producing resized cigars in the prohibited flavors. The recently announced amendments target these products and close the loophole by preventing manufacturers from changing the weight of little cigars or removing their filter in order to continuing marketing certain flavors.
The proposed amendments prohibit most flavors and selected additives in cigars that weigh more than 1.4 grams but no more than 6 grams, as well as in cigars that use tipping paper or do not feature a wrapper fitted in spiral form.
The amendments are scheduled to come into force Dec. 14.
The Canadian House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health has released a report asking the federal government to establish new legislative framework for the regulation of vapor products.
The report, titled “Vaping: Towards A regulatory framework for e-cigarettes,” includes provisions to regulate e-liquid content; prohibit e-liquid flavorings that are “specifically designed to appeal to youth”; require child-resistant packaging for e-cigarettes and refill containers; ban the use of vapor products in public places where use of traditional cigarettes is already banned; restrict advertising and promotion of vapor products; and prohibit the sale of vapor products to anyone under the age of 18.
Health Canada indicated that it would respond to the proposed regulation in “due course,” but no specific timeframe regarding its implementation was given.
British Columbia, Canada, will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prohibit e-cigarette use in buildings throughout the province by the end of 2015. The crackdown on vapor products is intended primarily to prevent minors from being exposed to such products and the unknown health effects they may have on users in the long term, according to Health Minister Terry Lake.
The new legislation bans the use of e-cigarettes inside all public buildings where traditional cigarette use is currently banned, including restaurants, bars, coffee shops, workplaces, hospitals, schools and movie theaters. The ban also covers vaping on all public and school properties, although health authorities are permitted to set aside specific areas for vaping as they have in the past for traditional smoking. Whether the use of e-cigarettes in parks is permitted will be determined by bylaws passed by local municipalities.
Vapers caught using e-cigarettes in restricted locations could face fines ranging from $58 to $575, while those caught selling e-cigarettes to minors risk a $575 fine.
The legislation also forbids businesses that sell e-cigarettes to advertise such products to youth, and those business that are caught selling e-cigarettes improperly could face administrative sanctions of up to $5,000.
Three of Canada’s tobacco giants began their defense Monday against a $27-billion class-action lawsuit in Montreal by calling a witness who said the dangers of smoking are no secret.
Historian and professor Jacques Lacoursière testified tobacco’s health risks have been common knowledge for decades. He pointed to over 700 references to the hazards of smoking dating back to the 1950s, including TV and radio reports, school manuals, government releases and health professionals.
One of the many examples included a newspaper article that outlined a significant increase in lung cancer risk following the prolonged use of cigarettes. The proceedings will continue on Tuesday with the plaintiffs’ cross-examination of Lacoursière.
“What these historians miss is all the coverage that came out in the media about how the industry was involved in a conspiracy to hide all that information,” said Damphousse François, the Quebec director of the Non-Smoker’s Rights Association.
“They knew about the health effects of their products, but they didn’t meet the obligation to inform their public about what they knew.”
The class-action lawsuit, which is being touted as the biggest civil case in Canadian history, was first filed years ago. The complainants, two groups of individuals representing a total of 1.8 million Quebecers, allege three tobacco companies did everything possible to encourage addiction:
- Imperial Tobacco.
- Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.
One group involves individuals who have become seriously ill from smoking, and members of the other group say they are unable to quit smoking.
An increase in in Canada’s Manitoba province’s tobacco tax has some smokers and tobacconists worried about the holes it’s expected to burn through their wallets and bottom lines.
On April 16, the province announced an immediate $0.04 hike in the tax, to $0.29 per cigarette, as part of its 2013 budget, according to a story in the Brandon Sun.
Peter Patel, owner of Up In Smoke Tobacconist, said he was caught off guard when he first learned of the hike on the radio.
“People are mad,” said Patel, adding he spent all of last Wednesday updating his prices and cash registers.
“They should be informed beforehand.”
The increase amounts to an extra dollar per pack of 25 cigarettes and includes an extra $0.04 per gram on fine-cut and raw leaf tobacco. The province expects to bring in an extra $17.2 million from the tax, which will be redirected into health care.
Overall, Manitoba expects to collect $283 million from tobacco taxes this year. The increase makes Manitoba smokers the most heavily taxed in Canada.
Decades of anti-smoking campaigns whittled Canada’s smoking population from about 50 percent in 1965 to less than 20 percent in 2011, but the rate of decline has slowed in recent years and five million Canadians still smoke, according to a Conference Board of Canada report Profile of Tobacco Smokers in Canada.
“It appears that, as the saying goes, the low-hanging fruit has been picked,” said Louis Thériault, director, health economics for the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, which conducted the research. “Further reductions in smoking will need to target the segments of our population where the smoking rate is still high – lower-income Canadians, in some blue-collar occupations and in industries such as construction.
“Most smokers work, so one of the best opportunities to help smokers break the habit is through smoking cessation programs in the workplace,” he added.
The study found that in 2011, 13.7 percent of Canadians smoked on a daily basis and another 3.6 percent were occasional smokers.
Almost 20 pe cent of Canadian men and 15 percent of Canadian women smoke. But 42.5 percent of Canadians in 2011 had never smoked a cigarette.