Tobacco legislation stalled while cannabis regulations fast-tracked

Edmonton – A strong majority of Albertans want the provincial government to implement stalled tobacco legislation prior to the legalization of cannabis in July 2018 according to a recent poll. The online public survey of 1,006 Albertans was conducted by Leger Research during the week of July 24. The poll reveals that four out of five respondents want the Alberta government to implement stalled tobacco legislation on or before July 2018.

“Albertans want the provincial government to implement the tobacco legislation before cannabis is legalized” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society. “Although cannabis can be harmful, tobacco is 37 times deadlier and further delays cannot be justified at the expense of fast-tracking the legalization of cannabis. Albertans agree that tobacco legislation should not take a back seat to cannabis regulation. Protection delayed is protection denied”.

Originally passed by the Legislative Assembly in 2013, major sections of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act remain unimplemented including measures to protect Alberta youth from illegal sales to minors and from all flavoured tobacco products. While in opposition, the NDP Caucus railed against the previous government for stalling the implementation of the same tobacco legislation.

“We are urging all Albertans to visit protectalbertakids.ca to demand the full implementation of life-saving legislation that will protect thousands of Alberta youth from tobacco industry products” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health (ASH). “Major sections of the tobacco act have been stalled while cannabis legislation has been fast-tracked. This deadly double standard is putting thousands of Alberta youth in peril.”

The coalition wants the government to protect Alberta youth by fully implementing tobacco legislation that is aimed at reducing sales to minors, banning all forms of flavoured tobacco, and protecting young and disadvantaged workers from exposure to secondhand smoke on the job.

“The Alberta government is promising new legislation that will protect Alberta youth from the hazards of cannabis use” said Lisa Campkin of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “The provincial government has an opportunity to reassure Albertans of its desire to protect kids from drug abuse by fully enacting the protective measures within the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act. Currently, the Alberta government is not adequately protecting youth from tobacco. Alberta youth deserve first class protection from all harmful and addictive drugs including tobacco.”

In the 2014/2015 school year, over 25,000 Alberta youth in grades 6 to 12 used tobacco products in the last 30 days according to the Canadian Youth Tobacco and Drug Survey commissioned by Health Canada. Tobacco kills an estimated 37,000 Canadians annually including 3,000 Albertans. Tobacco is the only legal substance that kills one half of its users when used as intended by its manufacturers. The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of prominent health organizations that are working to reduce tobacco use in Alberta.

CONTACT:

Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5295
Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546
Lisa Campkin @ 403-351-7045

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