New federal regulations on flavoured tobacco fail to give kids the protection they deserve, says Canadian Cancer Society

30 September 2014

Ottawa -

The Canadian Cancer Society says that flavoured tobacco regulations announced late Monday close one loophole but fall short of what the federal government can and should be doing to protect young Canadians from an urgent health risk. 

“The new federal regulations on flavoured tobacco fail to give kids the protection they deserve,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “We’re glad to see the government close a five-year old loophole on flavoured cigarillos, but the government should have done more.”

“Flavoured tobacco is tobacco with training wheels,” adds Cunningham. “Tobacco products are addictive and poisonous and should not be sold in fruit, candy and other appealing flavours.  Flavoured tobacco makes it too easy for youth to experiment with and become addicted to tobacco, which is of tremendous concern.”

Despite Canada-wide data showing that 50% of youth tobacco users use flavoured products, the new restrictions announced by Health Minister Rona Ambrose apply only to cigarillos, just one of several tobacco products used by youth. The new federal regulations do not in any way address the 29% of high school student smokers who smoke menthol, nor those who smoke flavoured water-pipe tobacco (hookah), those who consume flavoured chewing tobacco, nor those who consume various other tobacco products.

“Among the missing measures of particular importance is a ban on menthol cigarettes,” adds Cunningham.  “Menthol is the most popular flavour among youth.  Menthol reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke for youth and makes it easier for kids to smoke.”  The European Union is implementing a ban on menthol cigarettes that will apply to all 28 EU countries.

The absence of comprehensive federal regulations reinforces the need for strong provincial legislation as soon as possible to ban all flavours in all tobacco products.  The annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial health ministers begining in Banff, Alberta on Tuesday September 30 provides provincial and territorial health ministers the opportunity to take a strong stand on flavoured tobacco.

Alberta has legislation awaiting proclamation that bans flavours in all tobacco products.  Ontario is preparing to reintroduce a bill that was not passed prior to the provincial election.  Other provinces including Quebec and Nova Scotia have announced they are considering legislation to ban flavoured tobacco.

In Canada, many tobacco products remain heavily flavoured with flavours such as chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, strawberry and other flavours attractive to youth. 

The federal Tobacco Act, pursuant to 2009 amendments, currently prohibits flavours (except menthol) in cigarettes, cigarillos (little cigars) and blunt wraps.  Current federal legislation does not apply to any other tobacco product.

Results from the Canada-wide Youth Smoking Survey for the 2012-13 school year show that 50% of high school students in Canada who used tobacco products in the previous 30 days used flavoured tobacco products. 

Strong federal leadership is essential to further reducing tobacco use in the future. Past measures by the federal government are making a contribution, including the larger cigarette package health warnings introduced in 2012, and the federal tobacco tax increase in the 2014 budget.  A ban on all flavoured tobacco products is a crucial measure to make further progress.

Minister Ambrose also announced today that she would ask the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health to study e-cigarettes.  The Society welcomes this study by the Health Committee as there is a need for action by federal and provincial governments on this issue.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information visit or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981