The Canadian Cancer Society backs provincial legislation to ban flavoured tobacco products in Ontario.
This initiative would limit the availability of cigarillos, small flavoured cigars, to young Canadians. According to the University of Waterloo Youth Smoking Survey conducted in 2007, 35 per cent of Canadian youth in Grades 10 and 12 have tried cigarillos.
The packaging of these tobacco products is made to look like lipstick. Andrew Noble is senior co-ordinator of public issues for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Selling these products with flavours like cherry and in bright packages is clearly an indication of the younger market tobacco manufacturers are trying to capture,” Noble said. “It is time that the government and public stood up and took action.”
Cigarillos are sold in singles, which means they do not need a health warning on them to be sold. Noble explained that a minimum package size of 20 cigarillos will allow them to have health warnings.
“It is strange that someone can sell a tobacco product without any health warning telling users that if used as directed it will kill you,” Noble said. “We want them to have the same legislation that is already in place with cigarettes.”
Liberal and NDP party members argued for the ban of these particular cigars in Ontario on Thursday. The legislation they hope to put in place will ban flavoured cigarillos and force companies to sell the products in packs of 20.
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada back that Cancer Society and have met with the prime minister to talk about their concerns. Cynthia Callard is the executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.
“We met with Parliament and were happy that we got support from members,” Callard said. “We are very worried but gratified that data is now available and that there are high levels of concern.”
Sara Zammit, 22, is a biology sciences student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. She is a smoker and believes that these products are marketed to a younger demographic.
“I think that young people don’t like the taste of cigars as much as older people would,” Zammit said. “So the flavours make them taste different than real cigars, which is much more appealing to a young people.”
Zammit does not agree with selling these products in larger packages because she believes that most people only smoke cigarillos once in a while and would not want to buy more of them to smoke just a few.
“I don’t believe that health warnings do anything to stop young people from smoking,” Zammit said. “I believe that independent health advertisements, such as the program at UOIT called Leave the Pack Behind, are much more effective and better ways of getting the message out.”