From Tobacco Info No. 4 - February 2011
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The Quebec government is pleased with its Tobacco Law, but will it continue to move forward?
Seven health groups call for stronger measures
On October 18, Yves Bolduc, the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, reported to the National Assembly on the implementation of the Tobacco Act since 2005, as required by law.
The Minister declared that the report would “help the government to continue its reflection on the best way to guide Quebec society towards a smoke-free future.”
Seven health groups urged the government to revise the Act as smoking rates in Quebec are no longer decreasing, amongst other reasons.
In his report, Mr. Bolduc noted that the Tobacco Act is well respected by Quebecers. According to government health inspectors, the law is respected in 90% of enclosed workplaces, 96% of restaurants, 95% of bars, 92% of bingo halls, 92% of indoor parking garages and 89% of hotels. The restriction against smoking within nine metres of certain entrances is respected in 67% of the cases.
There has also been progress in terms of denormalization: tobacco products are now hidden from public view at 89% of outlets, as per a provision of the 2005 legislation which came into effect on May 31, 2008.
Give the law more teeth
Flavoured cigarillos are still available in Quebec. Because flavoured tobacco in particular helps to addict a new generation of young people to toxic products, seven health organizations call for a ban on scents and flavours in all tobacco products, regardless of weight and whether they are smoked, snuffed, sucked or chewed. Including the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, these groups also ask that the industry be prevented from introducing new tobacco products or brands (a freeze on the market) and from promoting smoking or its brands on the internet or elsewhere (zero promotion). They are also asking for mandatory plain packaging to prevent its use as a promotional vehicle.
Quebec residents ask for more
Health groups have the support of Quebec residents. In May and June of last year, the Quebec Division of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), as a part of its Relay for Life awareness event, organized a letter writing campaign to the Health Minister in hopes of encouraging Bolduc to strengthen the tobacco law. No less than 22,276 signatures were obtained.
“The tobacco law needs to be strong and energetic when it comes to protecting our youth from second-hand smoke, contraband tobacco and the introduction of new products that are more appealing than their predecessors,” said Marc Drolet, Director of Public Affairs at the CCS, Quebec division.
– by Joe Strizzi and Pierre Croteau