Calgary

Menthol ban won't stop young smokers, says tobacco seller

Health advocates are lobbying the government of Alberta to include a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes as part of new regulations on flavoured tobacco. However, one tobacconist is disputing the effectiveness of such a ban.

Health groups want ban, but tobacconist says problem is illegal sales to minors

Alberta is considering a ban on menthol as part of new tobacco regulations, but one tobacco seller says that will not prevent minors from getting cigarettes. (CBC)

Health advocates are lobbying the government of Alberta to include a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes as part of new regulations on flavoured tobacco.

However, one tobacconist is disputing the effectiveness of such a ban. 

Jeff Lawrence owns and operates Cheap Smokes and Tobacco in Calgary and he says the problem is insufficient enforcement of the law against selling cigarettes to minors. 

"So I think if they really want to do it properly, hitch their wagon to stopping people from selling it to kids and not just banning flavours."

Lawrence's shop is adult-only and he says it is rare to see a young person trying to purchase tobacco at his establishment. However, he claims minors can often buy cigarettes at convenience stores and gas stations.

Les Hagen, executive director of the Edmonton-based group Action on Smoking and Health, says menthol flavouring attracts young people to smoking and should be banned as part of new Alberta tobacco legislation.

Bill 206 would ban the sale of flavoured tobacco as part of efforts to reduce smoking among youth. The Alberta government is revamping its legislation to allow RCMP and bylaw officers to take over enforcement of tobacco laws.

Health Minister Stephen Mandel said the Alberta government is wrestling with what to do about menthol as it develops the new tobacco regulations.

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