Menthol ban in Alberta: Are the cigarette's days numbered?

The Alberta government is expected to announce changes to its smoking reduction plan on Sunday, and there's speculation the province's ban on flavoured tobacco products that starts on Monday could also include menthol cigarettes.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman expected to make an announcement on Sunday

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman will be announcing new restrictions coming into force under the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Regulation on Sunday, which many believe will include a ban on menthol cigarettes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Alberta government is expected to announce changes to its smoking reduction plan on Sunday, and there's speculation the province's ban on flavoured tobacco products that starts on Monday could also include menthol cigarettes.

The new law banning flavoured tobacco was passed by the Progressive Conservatives last fall, but the rules did not include menthol flavoured cigarettes. At the time the decision was slammed by the NDP and other opposition members.

The argument is that flavoured cigarettes and cigarillos target young people, and encourages smoking,

Les Hagen with the group Action on Smoking and Health, agrees with a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and says the product should be regulated federally and provincially. (CBC)

"Menthol is the worst flavouring of all because it soothes the throat, it opens the airways," said Les Hagen, with Action on Smoking and Health. "It helps to set the hook and get young people addicted to nicotine."

High school student Delaney Lamont-Green doesn't think the ban will be effective.

"I honestly don't think its going to change very much, tobacco users are just going to go back to using normal cigarettes and menthol users if they are really committed to it are just going to find it elsewhere."

A similar flavoured tobacco ban in Nova Scotia that takes effect this weekend also blocks the sale of menthol cigarettes, and the tobacco industry is already fighting back.

Imperial Tobacco is challenging the move with a lawsuit.

Nadine Bernard, the company's corporate affairs manager, says she won't speculate on what Alberta might do on Sunday but says the facts don't support a ban.

"The federal government excluded menthol from the flavour ban, it happened two times because there was not facts," she said. "They lacked evidence that it was attractive to youth."

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman will make her announcement on Sunday afternoon in Edmonton.


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