Flavoured tobacco popular with Canadian teens: survey

A study on youth smoking in Canada shows that half the teenagers that smoked had used a flavoured tobacco product with in the past month.

Flavours an effective recruitment tool for kids to start smoking

Half of the teenagers who smoked in the past month used a flavoured tobacco product, according to a survey on youth smoking habits in Canada. 

The survey, done by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo, on behalf of Health Canada, discovered that 50 per cent of high school students who had used tobacco within the past 30 days used flavoured products.

That equates to half of the high school students (15 and over) who used tobacco products in the month before the survey was taken, or 137,000 students, the report noted.

Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society said the latest statistics should be a call for new legislation to “ban all flavoured tobacco products.”

“Flavoured tobacco is a major threat to young people’s health,” said Cunningham in a statement.

The current federal Tobacco Act forbids flavours, with the exception of menthol, in cigarettes, cigarillos and blunt wraps. But because cigarillos are defined as cigars weighing 1.4 grams or less, manufacturers have simply made them heavier and infused flavours.

Other tobacco products with flavour include water pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and snuff. Flavours range from chocolate to mint to strawberry.

There are no other bans on flavoured tobacco products in Canada.

Alberta adopted legislation in December 2013, but it is still awaiting proclamation. Meanwhile, Ontario and Manitoba are in the process of introducing legislation and Quebec and Nova Scotia have said they plan on doing the same.

The survey, conducted from November 2012 to June 2013, found that three out of 10 students who smoked flavoured tobacco products had smoked menthol cigarettes.

“Menthol reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke … and makes it easier for them to smoke and get addicted,” said Cunningham, who also favours a ban on menthol-flavoured products.

The highest use of menthol cigarettes and flavoured products was among Quebec teens — 58 per cent compared to the national average of 49 per cent.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?