The president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) wants tighter regulations placed on smoking.
Dr. Mark Brown is asking for a province-wide ban on sales of all flavoured tobacco in the province, stating that the product targets youth.
"The tobacco industry is targeting young people because they know that, if they can get you hooked at 14 or 15, they'll probably have a client for life," he said in a release. "It is crucial that restrictions be implemented that will make tobacco less accessible and appealing to young people."
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Several other provinces, including Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario have banned the sale of flavoured tobacco. Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health has said there were no immediate plans for a ban, but were monitoring the situation in other provinces.
"I think at the time we were understandably disappointed by the health minister's response," Brown said. "But I think that this is important going forward that we continue to have the discussions. If you don't get the answer you want the first time I think it's good to bring the topic up again."
SMA asking for regulations on hookah
The SMA is also targeting tighter regulations on e-cigarettes and shisha and hookah smoking.
As of January, smoking and vaping will not be allowed in indoor or outdoor public spaces in Saskatoon (parks, arenas, areas around city buildings). However, vaping is still allowed in public places in many other Saskatchewan cities, including Regina.
The SMA is also calling for a ban on the sale of e-cigarette products to minors.
The medical association's doctors voted unanimously in favour of resolutions on these issues at its meeting in November.
In First Nations' culture, tobacco is considered sacred in spiritual ceremonies. Brown said that would be respected in the SMA's proposals. The the ability of hookah lounges to continue to operate would also be taken into account.
"What we are proposing is mostly surrounding the abuse of tobacco and the addiction to tobacco products. We certainly don't want to impinge on anybody's traditional rights," Brown said.
It's no coincidence that Brown is speaking on these issues today, one day after the provincial election was called.
"We think this is a good time to generate discussion," Brown said. "We think that this is a good time for the people of Saskatchewan to know what the doctors think about what the priorities for health care going forward."
He said the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses is much greater than the money the government brings in from tobacco sales. He wants to reduce the smoking rate in Saskatchewan, which remains above the national average.