Youth group delivers strong message to Alberta Government on Bill 206

30 May 2014

Edmonton -

Today a youth action group from Lloydminster delivered 4,400 postcards to Health Minister Fred Horne urging the Alberta government to proclaim Bill 206 without exemptions or further delays. Bill 206 was passed last fall with almost unanimous consent from the Legislative Assembly. The postcards were distributed across the province by the Canadian Cancer Society. The postcard delivery coincides with World No-Tobacco Day on Saturday, May 31.

“We hope that these postcards will be the final straw to break the stalemate on Bill 206” said Jianna Marin of the Lloyd Flavour Gone youth group. “Every day of delay is another victory for the tobacco industry. Thousands of Alberta kids have started using flavoured tobacco products since the bill was passed last fall. The tobacco companies would love to stall this bill until the government has a change of heart or a change of guard. We cannot allow tobacco companies to continue to target youth with flavoured tobacco products for even one more day. Protection delayed is protection denied.”

Over two dozen tobacco lobbyists are fighting the proposed ban on flavoured tobacco. The main item of contention is a ban on menthol cigarettes. More than one-third of school-aged youth smokers are using menthol cigarettes in Alberta compared with only four percent of adult smokers. Research shows that menthol makes it easier for youth to get hooked on tobacco and harder for smokers to quit. Menthol soothes the throat, opens the airways and increases nicotine absorption.

“Twenty-six thousand Alberta youth are using flavoured tobacco products and one-half are smoking menthol cigarettes” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division. “Any legitimate effort to stop flavoured tobacco use among youth must include a ban on menthol cigarettes. Half-measures just won’t work and will just drive youth toward exempted flavoured products. We urge the provincial government to proclaim Bill 206 immediately without any exemptions and give Alberta kids the protection they deserve. Let’s not leave any kids behind.”

A few weeks ago, Jianna Marin launched a campaign to help get Bill 206 across the finish line by taking her message directly to high schools around the province. To date, she has met with hundreds of high school students across Alberta that share her concerns about flavoured tobacco use.

“Alberta youth support a ban on all flavoured tobacco products” said Marin. “I have met with hundreds of high school students throughout the province and they want government action now. Students have been sharing their experiences with flavoured tobacco and it’s definitely a serious problem in Alberta high schools. Every school that I have visited is currently struggling with flavoured tobacco use. We cannot allow tobacco companies to keep targeting youth with this blatant marketing scheme.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295
Les Hagen at 780-919-5546
Jianna Marin is also available for media interviews