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Peel Public Health raises concerns over chewing tobacco use among teens

A pouch of chewing tobacco lays on the field before the Cleveland Indians MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 14, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
A pouch of chewing tobacco lays on the field before the Cleveland Indians MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 14, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

TORONTO – Peel region health officials say 4 per cent of teenagers in grade 7 to 12 have admitted to using chewing tobacco in the past 12 months.

Officials are warning youth that smokeless tobacco products have serious health implications as they contain thousands of chemicals.

In recent weeks, the province made moves to limit tobacco use and exposure by instituting a ban on smoking in restaurant/bar patios, playgrounds and outdoor sports fields.

However, opposition critics say the governing Liberals are still not doing enough to curb tobacco use, especially with regards to flavoured tobacco products.

New Democrat France Gelinas has urged the province to pass legislation outlawing all flavoured tobacco products in Ontario, including menthol cigarettes.

Meanwhile, federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in September that the government will be proposing regulatory amendments that would further restrict access to the tobacco products and close what Health Canada calls a “loophole” in the current rules.

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But anti-tobacco groups argue the amendments still don’t touch smokeless tobacco products, hookah tobacco, and menthol cigarettes.

With a file from The Canadian Press