Students at Belmont secondary concerned about the use of flavoured tobacco by youth have gathered more than 500 names on a petition calling for a ban on the products in B.C.
Recently they held an awareness event at the school, tying it in with World No Tobacco Day. The campaign was also held in conjunction with a similar one undertaken by the B.C. and Yukon Division of the Canadian Cancer Society, which is lobbying the province to have the products removed from store shelves.
“We feel that this is an important cause because cancer affects everyone and everyone deserves the right to know when they are being targeted,” said student Jonathan Grandfield, one of the petition organizers. “Awareness is huge, especially when it is something as preventable as tobacco-caused cancer.”
The most recent national youth smoking survey found that of those high school students who reported using a tobacco product in the previous 30 days – about 20 per cent of those polled – slightly more than half said they had used flavoured tobacco products.
Tobacco flavoured with everything from fruits and chocolate to mint, is more appealing to some smokers. The Cancer Society says young people stand more chance of becoming addicted to tobacco using such products.
Specifically, certain types of cigars, cigarillos and water pipe tobacco are on their hit list. In releasing the survey findings last fall, the Cancer Society argued that manufacturers got around Bill C-32, the federal Tobacco Act that banned flavours except menthol in cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and blunt wraps, by increasing the weight of each unit above the federal cutoff of 1.4 grams.
Belmont student Jeff Allan was clear about why he wanted to raise awareness among his fellow students.
“Cancer plagues the world, but many of the various forms of cancer can be avoided,” he said.