Alberta’s new tobacco law targets flavoured tobacco, but exempts menthol

EDMONTON — Alberta is phasing in a law passed last fall to ban flavoured tobacco products, but has decided to exempt menthol.

“These changes include the strictest ban on flavoured tobacco in Canada,” said Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Mandel says menthol wasn’t touched because the ban is aimed at reducing tobacco use by young people, but banning it also would have affected adult smokers.

Critics accuse Health Minister Stephen Mandel of being swayed by tobacco lobbyists.

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READ MORE: Alberta menthol cigarette ban may go up in smoke

“Today this government caved to big tobacco and it put the profit-making strategies of tobacco companies ahead of the health and safety of Alberta’s youth,” said NDP MLA David Eggen.

“Mandel needs to act to help protect and improve the health of Alberta’s youth, not to protect Big Tobacco’s bottom line,” said Eggen.

Mandel maintains he has never spoken to a tobacco lobbyist.

The ban on flavoured tobacco products is to go into effect next June to give retailers time to adjust to the change.

Health and anti-smoking groups say exempting menthol is a mistake, because the minty tobacco flavour is the most popular with young people.

READ MORE: Health Canada cracking down on flavoured smokes

The federal and Ontario governments have also exempted menthol from flavoured tobacco bans, but are being urged by health advocates to reconsider.

Starting June 1, 2015, the province’s new tobacco law will also require minimum pack sizes for specific tobacco products, which will eliminate smaller, more affordable options.

The new legislation also prohibits smoking in vehicles when minors are present, effective immediately.

More to come…

With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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