10/07/2013 11:01 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Flavoured Tobacco Picked By 52% Of Teen Smokers In Survey


More than half of high school students surveyed in Canada who used tobacco said they tried candy-flavoured products, say health groups calling for a ban on all such products.

Overall in Canada, 52 per cent (169,300) of students in Grades 9 to 12 who reported using tobacco during the 30 days before the survey was taken had used flavoured tobacco products, according to the Youth Smoking Survey released Monday by a coalition of health groups.

About 32 per cent (75,200) of students who smoked in the last 30 days reported using menthol cigarettes, indicates the survey, with its findings extrapolated from the sample of more than 50,000 students..

"These survey results clearly show there is an urgent and compelling need for federal and provincial governments to ban all flavoured tobacco products," Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said in a release.

"Swift action is needed to protect youth from these products. It is essential that governments introduce new legislation without delay."

The federal Tobacco Act prohibits flavours, except menthol, in cigarettes, cigarillos (little cigars) and blunt wraps. But cigarillos are defined as cigars weighing 1.4 grams or less, or having a cigarette filter. 

The tobacco industry avoided a 2009 ban on flavours in small filtered cigars by simply increasing the size of products, which in turn exempted the industry from the ban, according to the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.

The Youth Smoking Survey suggests that among high school students:

- 14 per cent (237,100 students) had smoked in the previous 30 days.

- 20 per cent (327,000 students) had used a tobacco product in the previous 30 days.

- 10 per cent (169,300 students) had used a flavoured tobacco product (including menthol cigarettes) in the previous 30 days.

The Youth Smoking Survey by Health Canada and the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo in Ontario is conducted every two years. The most recent survey results are from the survey done between October 2010 and June 2011, with 50,949 students participating across Canada.

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