Government Removes Menthol Cigarettes From Store Shelves
The Feds have fired another shot across the bow of Big Tobacco in an effort to reduce the amount of kids who begin smoking. In an effort to improve on the idea of banning flavoured tobacco which was enacted under legislation by the then Conservative Government in late 2009, the Feds have now said that they will move to ban altogether the sale of menthol cigarettes across the country.
Several provinces had already made the decision to outlaw this form of tobacco, Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec already enacted legislation outright banning menthol cigarettes with Prince Edward Island recently tabling legislation to do the same. There has been some push back by Big Tobacco with a legal challenge filed by one of the biggest tobacco companies who oppose the legislation. Imperial Tobacco has argued that the ban will do nothing more than fuel the trade in illegal, contraband black market cigarettes and that the bill had a few provisions tacked on at the last minute that may affect the constitutional rights of those who may be affected by the ban.
The argument however holds little water for those opposed to the menthol cigarettes. Research has clearly shown that many 1st time smokers, read children or teenagers, will try their first cigarettes by using the menthol or flavoured versions.
The rational goes that because of the flavouring or menthol the cigarette is not nearly as harsh tasting as it would be if there were no flavouring making much more likely that the experience will be a more pleasurable one and making it much more likely that the individual will either try it again or will continue to smoke from that point on. Studies have shown that menthol is hugely popular with younger demographics of smokers, typically those under the age of 25.
One study has shown that up to 37 percent of young smokers had smoked a menthol cigarette in the past 30 days. Research also indicates that the menthol market is about 5% of the overall tobacco market and menthol cigarettes account for 98% of that subset. The idea behind the ban is to try and prevent young people from ever taking up the habit it the first place, to reduce the amount new smokers entering into the market.
By making it as unpleasant as possible or quite simply reducing the things that seem to make it more pleasant than it really is by masking the taste defeats that purpose and the Federal Government has stepped in and said no more. Health Minister Jane Philpott acknowledged that tens of thousands of Canadians per year die from smoking related illnesses and that the younger a person begins smoking the much likelier they are to succumb to a premature death down the road.
Health Canada expanded on those numbers pegging the number at a staggering 37,000 plus dying from disease caused by smoking every year, making it by far the leading cause of preventable death and costing the country a whopping $4.4 billion dollars every year in avoidable health care costs.