01/31/2012 06:20 EST | Updated 04/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta health groups launch campaign to get youth to butt out

EDMONTON - Several health organizations in Alberta have launched a campaign aimed at butting out tobacco use among young people.

The groups want a tax increase on tobacco to make it more expensive for youth.

They also want a ban on candy-flavoured tobacco products, stricter controls on sales to minors and a requirement that vehicles carrying children be smoke free.

Leigh Allard of the Alberta/NWT Lung Association says smoking among young people in the province is unacceptably high.

He says immediate action is needed to reverse the trend.

The campaign includes the use of social media to urge voters to voice their concerns to politicians in the upcoming provincial election.

The coalition includes regional branches of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

It says Alberta is the only province without any legislation to curb tobacco sales to minors. It also says Alberta and Quebec are the only provinces that have not banned smoking in vehicles with children present.

In 2010, 14 per cent of Alberta youth aged 12-19 were smoking, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey.