Tobacco producers have found a loophole to market candy flavoured tobacco products to kids.
A nationwide study called the Youth Smoking Survey (YSS), conducted in 2010-2011 by researchers at the University of Waterloo, showed that flavoured tobacco products are increasingly popular among Canadian youth. The study found that 57,000 students between grades 6 and 12 used the products in Ontario alone.
The Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco (OCAT) has used the survey as an opportunity to draw attention to these products and lobby the government to tighten legislation.
When you see the products on display, there’s no mistaking the target market. For example, Bluntarillos (cigars wrapped in tobacco leaves) are given sickly-sweet flavours (cherry vanilla, watermelon, etc), goofy but suggestive names (Grapes Gone Wild, Strawberry Fields, Black n’ Blueberry) and packaged with the bright colours and busy design of candy and other junk food that teens crave. Worse yet, because they’re technically not cigarettes, the products can be sold without any health warnings.
This kind of legal duplicity is an industry specialty. As OCAT director Michael Perley points out, “The industry has avoided a 2009 ban on flavours in small filtered cigars by simply increasing the size of their products, which in turn has exempted them from the ban.”
OCAT is calling for a complete ban on flavoured tobacco products. If you’re on Ontario resident and would like to learn more, check the OCAT site. For statistics from other provinces, the full results of the Youth Smoking Survey can be found here.
Complete OCAT news release: http://www.ocat.org/pdf/OCAT-FlavouredTobaccoNewsReleaseOct2013(FINAL-WEB).pdf