FREDERICTON — New Brunswick moved Friday to ban the sale of all flavoured tobacco products, making it the latest province to crack down on goods that critics say are designed to entice young people to smoke.
Health Minister Victor Boudreau introduced amendments to the Tobacco Sales Act that prohibit the sale of such goods as of Jan. 1, 2016.
“These proposed changes will serve to make smoking less attractive for all New Brunswickers, especially our youth,” he said in a statement.
The sale of e-cigarettes and e-juices to people under 19 will also be prohibited, there will be age restrictions at vapour shops and the sale of smoking supplies to minors will be banned starting July 1.
Boudreau said the move is intended to discourage people in New Brunswick from taking up the habit, while also preventing chronic diseases and lowering health-care costs.
Similar restrictions take effect Sunday in Nova Scotia, which passed legislation banning the sale of flavoured tobacco, including menthol.
Health Minister Leo Glavine said the measures make Nova Scotia the first province in the country to ban all flavoured tobacco products.
“The flavoured tobacco has been all about getting people to experiment and nicotine is very addictive in a very short period of time,” said Glavine, a former teacher and school administrator.
“It was the way to get the next generation of smokers.”
The ban also includes flavoured rolling papers and tobacco products that are not smoked, such as chewing tobacco and snuff. It does not include port, rum, wine and whiskey-flavoured cigars that weigh five grams or more.
The initiative could be tested, however, after Imperial Tobacco Canada said Thursday it will challenge the legislation on the grounds that Nova Scotia exceeded its legal authority with the ban.
Nadine Bernard, a spokeswoman for Imperial Tobacco, said the ban is misguided because menthol products are used predominantly by older smokers who could be forced to buy menthol goods illicitly.
“We believe that by banning menthol it will only drive consumers to the illegal market and the problem will stay,” she said Friday.
But Glavine rebuffed the assertion, saying his job is to protect the health of residents.
“We are not stepping anywhere out of the legal boundaries that we as a government must always put forward,” he said.
The Canadian Cancer Society praised the Nova Scotia government for the measures, adding that they take effect on World No Tobacco Day.
“Nova Scotia has made history by taking a stand against Big Tobacco and putting the health of Nova Scotia’s youth first,” said Barbara Stead-Coyle of the society’s provincial branch.
Proponents of e-cigarettes argue the products help smokers quit, while anti-tobacco advocates point to scientific studies that have demonstrated flavoured tobacco, including the juice in e-cigarettes, is popular among youth.
— By Alison Auld in Halifax.
The Canadian Press