National ban on menthol smokes stalled by Saskatchewan, Rona Ambrose says

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the government of Saskatchewan was very resistant to imposing a ban on menthol flavoured cigarettes.
Saskatchewan was not on board with a national ban on the sale of menthol-flavoured cigarettes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the government of Saskatchewan was very resistant to imposing a national ban on menthol-flavoured cigarettes.

Ambrose said Monday that discussions about a nation wide ban on flavoured tobacco products were bogged down over the question of menthol cigarettes.

"We tried, but we couldn't get consensus from the provinces," Ambrose said. "It's hard for the federal government to regulate the whole country when we couldn't get consensus. Saskatchewan in particular wasn't willing to go ahead with a menthol ban, so we excluded menthol."

Ambrose noted that some jurisdictions have since introduced their own bans on menthol.

"I see provinces are now going ahead on their own individually and I think that's great," she said.

An official for the province of Saskatchewan said the province participated in what were described as "broad discussions" that addressed youth-oriented flavourings and covered "all forms of tobacco."

The official said Saskatchewan was not on board with a ban because of the "undefined and expansive nature of these discussions."

According to the official, there are many questions about what flavours are considered "youth-oriented" and what types of flavoured tobacco products should be banned. The official noted there are many types of tobacco products including pipe tobacco, water tobacco, chewing tobacco, little cigars, cigarettes and more. 

"We will continue to evaluate these policy options," the official said, adding that "Saskatchewan continues to make concrete strides against youth tobacco consumption."

The official said that, recently, Saskatchewan had made it illegal to smoke on school grounds, near the entrances of public buildings and in a vehicle with a child present.


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