Government of Canada finalizes ban on menthol in most tobacco products
Menthol ban expands previous restrictions on flavours that appeal to youth
April 5, 2017 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada, killing half of all long-term smokers. Every 14 minutes, a Canadian dies from a smoking-related illness – 37,000 Canadians per year. Despite declines in tobacco use in recent decades, in 2015, approximately 115,000 Canadians began smoking daily.
Building on the Government’s commitment under the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, Health Canada announced today a finalized amendment to the Tobacco Act to ban the use of menthol in cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars sold on the Canadian market. This will expand flavour restrictions to 95% of the entire tobacco market in Canada.
This amendment builds on changes that came into force in 2009 and 2015, which banned the use of certain additives, including flavours like chocolate and bubble gum, in all cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars (including little cigars), to make them less attractive to youth.
Menthol masks the irritating effect of tobacco smoke by making it easier to inhale, which facilitates experimentation by youth. Most Canadians who have smoked a cigarette did so by the age of 18 and many go on to become lifetime smokers. Preventing youth from starting to smoke is one of the most effective means of decreasing tobacco use in Canada. By prohibiting menthol in most tobacco products, the Government of Canada is taking yet another step to reduce the appeal of smoking to Canadian youth.
“Every year, tens of thousands of Canadians die from preventable diseases that can be directly linked to smoking, and thousands of youth pick up their first cigarette. Research shows that the best way to prevent these deaths is to help people to not take up smoking in the first place, especially when they’re young. By banning menthol in most tobacco products, in addition to flavours previously prohibited, we are taking another important step in the fight against youth smoking.”
Minister of Health
Research has shown that an important way to curb lifetime smoking is to prevent youth from starting to smoke in the first place.
Despite success in reducing smoking rates among youth to a record low, recent data has shown that a significant number of youth smoke menthol cigarettes.
Restricting the use of menthol flavouring is only one part of the Government of Canada’s overall tobacco control strategy. The Government of Canada continues to advance work to implement its commitment to introduce plain and standardized packaging requirements for all tobacco products, to pass new legislation to regulate vaping products, as well as supporting First Nation and Inuit communities in the development and implementation of tobacco control projects that are socially and culturally appropriate.
During the 75-day comment period following the Canada Gazette, Part I pre-publication of this amendment, Health Canada received 131 submissions on the menthol ban, the vast majority of which supported this course of action.
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health
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