Bill seeks banning of flavoured tobaccos in BC

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New West MLA Judy Darcy has re-introduced the bill from last April

By Angela Espinoza, News Editor

New Westminster NDP member and Member of the Legislative Assembly Judy Darcy has reintroduced a bill seeking the ban of flavoured tobacco products in BC.

The bill was first introduced in April 2014, when Darcy focussed on several key points such as the disguised smell and colourful packaging of flavoured tobacco products. “Last spring I introduced a private member’s bill calling for prohibition of the sale of flavoured tobacco in BC,” said Darcy. “The Ministry of Health said at the time that they were … waiting for the federal government to act on [the bill], and if the federal government did not act, then [the Ministry of Health] would.”

Darcy then explained that after several of months of waiting, changes had yet to occur in regard to the sale of flavoured tobacco products in BC.

“I reintroduced it [recently] because there was no indication that the government was going to do so,” said Darcy. Darcy believes that flavoured tobacco comes in colourful packaging deliberately to attract younger smokers. “The way that they’re packaged to look like candy or to look like cosmetics … and because they have these sweet flavours … so they don’t have that same hacking and coughing that you normally would when you start smoking.

“We do have some of the lowest smoking rates in the country, but it’s kind of stalled out, it’s not getting any lower, and the tobacco companies are looking for new markets.”

Darcy added that statistics provided by the Canadian Cancer Society, as well as from polls conducted across BC, show that roughly 30,000 “young people” take up smoking each year in BC. “Half of them start with flavoured tobacco,” said Darcy.

“Tobacco and smoking are still the single biggest cause of preventable cancer death in BC, about 6,000 people die of tobacco-related cancers in BC every year, so I think we need action to take them off the shelves.

“Since the ‘90s, we’ve been leaders on anti-smoking programs and initiatives and laws … and we should be continuing that. Other provinces have [banned flavoured tobaccos], we haven’t.”

When the New Westminster Newsleader covered the story last June, Health Minister Terry Lake provided a statement regarding his own personal concerns over the sale of flavoured tobacco products.

“Federal legislation would ensure a consistent cross-Canada ban on the product, rather than a patchwork of standards across the country, where efforts, testing and enforcement would be duplicated and more expensive,” Lake told the Newsleader. “I am pleased that there will be a consistent level of protection developed for youth across Canada—regardless of where they live.”