Order Amending the Schedule to the Tobacco Act (Menthol)

The Order Amending the Schedule to the Tobacco Act (Menthol) ("the Order") and the associated Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement were published in the April 5, 2017 edition of the Canada Gazette, Part II.

Objective

The objective of the Order is to protect youth from inducements to use tobacco products and the consequent dependence on them. In order to achieve this objective, Health Canada is further reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products by limiting the availability of menthol-flavoured tobacco products in Canada.

Background

In 2009, Parliament amended the Tobacco Act (TA) by adding a schedule of prohibited additives (the “Schedule to the TA”) to restrict the use of flavours and other additives in the manufacture of certain tobacco products, reducing their appeal to youth. The Schedule to the TA identifies tobacco products for which selected additives are prohibited and lists the additives, which include those with flavouring properties, sweeteners, colouring agents, and several others that can be used to increase their attractiveness. Most flavour additives, with some exceptions, were prohibited in little cigars, cigarettes, blunt wraps (sheets of tobacco for rolling). At the time, menthol was exempted from the Schedule of prohibited additives.

In 2015, amendments were made to the Schedule to the TA (through the Order Amending the Schedule to the Tobacco Act, SOR/2015-126). These amendments extended the 2009 prohibition to specifically address additional types of cigars that were flavoured and had cigarette-like charac­teristics (cigars weighing more than 1.4 g but not more than 6 g, excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip, and cigars with tipping paper or a wrapper that is not fit­ted in spiral form). Specific exceptions were provided for additives used to impart traditional alcohol flavours to certain cigars, specifically port, wine, rum and whisky.

According to the 2014–2015 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS), 6% of students in grades 6 to 12 (grade 6 to secondary V in Quebec) [159 000 students] reported using cigarettes in the past 30 days, with almost half as many (3% or 67 000) reporting that they had used menthol cigarettesFootnote 1 . Preventing the initiation of tobacco use by youth is recognized as one of the most effective means of reducing lifetime tobacco use and its associated health hazards. Measures are therefore being introduced to restrict the use of menthol in certain tobacco products to reduce their appeal among youth.

The Order amends the schedule to remove the exception for menthol. Removing the exception will result in a pro­hibition on the use of menthol in the manu­facture of cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars (little cigars, cigars that have tipping paper, cigars that have a wrapper that is not fitted in spiral form and cigars weigh­ing more than 1.4 g but less than 6 g, excluding the weight of any mouthpiece or tip) upon the coming into force of the Order. As of that date, the sale of these products is also prohibited if they contain menthol. Furthermore, the coming into force of the Order will also mean that the prohibition on the promotion of menthol additives on tobacco product packaging will be applicable.

Coming into force

Effective October 2, 2017, the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars that contain menthol will be prohibited. As of that date, the promotion of menthol on the packaging of these tobacco products will also be prohibited.

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