To mark National Non-Smoking Week, which took place January 15–21, CDA joined a group of health organizations in the fight against the marketing of tobacco novelties such as flavoured cigarillos aimed at youth. The national and provincial health groups also urged a ban on flavoured smokeless tobacco products. Tobacco companies add candy and fruit flavours to smokeless tobacco to mask its unpleasant taste, leading young people to believe that the product is harmless. Smokeless tobacco products contain 28 known carcinogens. Users of smokeless tobacco products and users of cigarettes have comparable levels of nicotine in their blood.
"Smokeless tobacco causes serious oral diseases, yet these products continue to be available in kid-friendly flavours, with inadequate health warnings," said Dr. Robert MacGregor, CDA president.
Labels on smokeless tobacco products sold in Canada have smaller or less visible health warnings than those seen on cigarette packages, if any. Tobacco companies also exploit loopholes in current regulations to sell flavoured cigarillos to young people. Companies have modified their packaging and products so that they technically comply with the law, while still targeting the younger generation.
Practising dentists see firsthand the initial signs of problems that arise when individuals use flavoured tobacco products. At a news conference held during National Non-Smoking Week, Dr. Euan Swan, CDA manager of dental programs, noted, "Using smokeless tobacco products is no less dangerous than smoking cigarettes. There is no safe level of tobacco use."
CDA is concerned that tobacco products have been shown to contribute to oral diseases, including oral cancers and periodontal diseases. "We need a comprehensive ban on flavours and prominent, effective warnings for all tobacco products," explained Dr. MacGregor.