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Flavoured tobacco ban looms

Menthol cigarettes, along with most other flavoured tobacco products, will no longer legally be sold in Ontario starting in the New Year.

Changes to the Smoke Free Ontario Act will result in the sale of clove cigarettes and most menthol-flavoured tobacco products being banned as of Jan. 1.

Klaus Larsen, a tobacco enforcement officer with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, said the ban is the latest step in the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products.

“What statistics show is that young people are drawn to flavours,” Larsen said.

“What menthol does is cover the harsh flavour of tobacco products so we’re seeing it’s popular among those under the age of 25 and the ban will steer away the younger population from tobacco products.”

The first ban began last year on New Year’s Day and covered all flavoured tobacco products except for some flavoured cigars and a temporary one-year exemption for menthol and clove flavoured products, which is now expiring.

Larsen said the health unit has inspected vendors and have not found any compliance issues.

“The retailers tell us they’re still getting requests for the tobacco products and often times when the flavoured tobacco products are not available the customer will walk away from purchasing any tobacco product,” Larsen said.

One concern is more people switching to vaping, or e-cigarettes, to use flavoured products.

Larsen compared the current state of the vaping industry to “big tobacco” before governments began implementing regulations and restrictions.

“I think what’s been proven statistically is that vaping is less harmful than smoking but you have to remember that less harmful does not mean harmless,” he said.

“The other thing you have to remember is the fact that we don’t know what the long-term effect is of vaping.”

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