Canada eyes ban on flavored tobacco aimed at youths

Tue May 26, 2009 5:14pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Tuesday proposed a ban on fruit-flavored cigarettes and small cigars that anti-smoking groups say are being marketed like candy to lure children into smoking.

Tobacco advertising rules will also be tightened to close a loophole that allows cigarettes to be advertised in newspapers and magazines that claim to be aimed at an adults but are available to anyone and often given out for free.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the industry's own internal documents showed it was using sweet flavors like grape, banana and peach to entice teenagers to try tobacco for the first time so they become addicted.

"Tobacco is not candy and should never be mistaken as such," Aglukkaq told a news conference in Ottawa.

Canada's tobacco industry denies it markets it products to children. The country's larger producers do not make fruit-flavored cigarettes or cigarillos, but they are imported from foreign producers.

Cigarette use among teenagers in Canada has declined from 28 percent in 1999 to 15 percent in 2007, but anti-smoking groups worry that flavored smoking products will reverse that trend.

"Parents might not know about them, but their children do," said Rob Cunningham, of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The restrictions would not ban menthol-flavored tobacco.   Continued...