Montreal

Quebec eyes cigarillo ban to curb teen smoking

Quebec is considering a ban on individually-wrapped cigarillos because a growing number of teens are smoking them.

Quebec is considering a ban on individually-wrapped cigarillos because a growing number of teens are smoking them.

Such a ban would discourage some teens from taking up smoking, said health department spokeswoman Isabelle Merizi, adding the province hopes to legislate that rule by the end of May 2008.

The cigarillos are increasingly attractive to teens, who smoked more of them last year than ever before, according to the province's health ministry.

In 2004, teens made up 18 per cent of cigarillo consumers in Quebec — a figure that climbed to 22 per cent in 2007.

The flavouring of cigarillos with fruit, honey and chocolate flavours entices teens to think the tobacco product is less harmful than it actually is, according to the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health.

Young people now smoke more cigarillos than cigarettes, which has increased overall smoking among teens, according to new figures from Quebec's health department.

According to the province, the population of teens who smoked cigarettes dropped from 90,000 to 71,000 in the last two years, but the overall number of young smokers rose to 115,000, when cigarillo consumption was included in the count.

Teens, on average, smoke their first full cigarette at age 12½, according to a recent survey done by Quebec's Statistics Institute.

The survey also found that among 47,000 high school students who tried to stop smoking, 70 per cent took up the habit again.

Girls had a harder time quitting than boys, the survey concluded.

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