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October 09, 2021

Cheap flavoured tobacco is turning out to be a big money maker

An explosion of cheap, flavoured cigars in recent years has delivered a nice boost to cigar sales in North America and may be changing the demographics of cigar smoking.

Despite a four-year-old ban on flavoured cigarettes, more than half of Canadian high school students admit they’ve tried smoking some sort of flavoured tobacco within the past month, according to a new study.

Fruit- and candy-flavoured tobacco packaged in bright colours aimed at children-- flavours available include chocolate, mint, cherry, peach, and strawberry -- makes it easier for youth to become addicted to tobacco, warns Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cheap, flavoured, small cigars are marketed aggressively to young people and have resulted in high school kids being twice as likely as their older counterparts to pick up the habit, according to some estimates.

"These survey results clearly show there is an urgent and compelling need for federal and provincial governments to ban all flavoured tobacco products," Cunningham maintains. "Swift action is needed to protect youth from these products. It is essential that governments introduce new legislation without delay."

Currently, federal laws ban flavoured cigarettes except for menthol and blunt wraps and cigarillos, which are cigars weighing 1.4 grams or less. But tobacco companies have managed to get around this prohibition by simply increasing the size of products and producing flavoured cigars that are 1.5 grams or so.

And even though many adults wouldn't even recognize them, they've been a hit with teenagers and are readily available in convenience stores, along with other 'get-them-early' products like menthol cigarettes.

“Menthol soothes the throat and reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke for youth who are experimenting,” Cunningham says, suggesting that this additive be restricted as well.

Do you agree? Should flavoured tobacco products be restricted or taxed at higher rates?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...