With the help of Liberal MPP Dave Levac’s co-sponsorship, this bill became one of the few private member’s bills that made it into law.
The bill targeted small cigars that were available in candy flavours like strawberry, chocolate, mint and rum. Referred to by researchers as “starter cigarettes,” the brightly packaged cigarillos sold individually for as little as a dollar.
These products targeted kids; the flavours appeal to them and the packaging makes them easy to hide from parents. They were priced so that it was easy for teens to buy one, just to try it, and then get hooked. Most teens wouldn’t spend $8 on a pack of cigarettes if they’ve never smoked, but might spend $1 just to try one. It made tobacco extremely accessible.
Before the ban could even be implemented, the tobacco companies had already found loopholes and were able to continue selling a nearly identical product without running afoul of the law. They did so by rolling out new products that weighed just enough more than their predecessors to circumvent the rule.
Today, flavoured cigarillo sales continue. In response, I am again introducing a private member’s bill to prevent the tobacco industry from targeting youth.
This new act will ban the sale of all flavoured tobacco products, including chewing tobacco, snus, cigarillos or any other new products. The goal of the bill is to protect our youth from becoming the next generation of smokers.
There is no way to operate in good faith with the tobacco companies. The only way to prevent their marketing of “starter cigarettes” to youth is to ban all flavoured tobacco products — a ban that would make selling any kind of flavoured tobacco products subject to heavy fines.
In 2008, members of the legislature saw that there was no reason to allow young people to be a target market for addictive poisons, and they acted in accordance to stop the recruitment a new generation of smokers.
Unfortunately we were outfoxed by the tobacco companies. This bill should stop them for good.
Given our current laws and regulations regarding tobacco, it’s clear that our province has taken a strong stance of saying “no” to any more expansion of the tobacco market. This new bill is just a natural next step.
It’s time to close the door for good on flavoured tobacco. By keeping these gateway products off the shelf we are protecting our youth from those that would take advantage of their naivety and desire to “be cool.”
Nickel Belt MPP and Ontario NDP health and long-term care critic
Posted by Heidi Ulrichsen