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Federal government won’t regulate menthol, but health minister supports ban

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta and other Canadian provinces are butting out against menthol tobacco. But despite these provincial actions, the federal government is not budging when it comes to menthol. Lisa Wolansky reports.

EDMONTON – The federal government’s newest flavoured tobacco regulations were announced Friday, but didn’t include a ban on menthol. The decision was made despite the fact Alberta announced in late May it would become the sixth province to ban the sale of menthol tobacco.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the Canadian government wants consensus from all provinces before it too bans menthol.

“It’s hard for the federal government to regulate the whole country when we couldn’t get consensus. Saskatchewan in particular was not willing to go ahead with a menthol ban so we excluded menthol.”

READ MORE: Alberta government adds menthol to flavoured tobacco ban

Despite the federal government’s decision to not ban menthol, Ambrose supports provinces like Alberta eliminating the sale of the product.

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“Smoking is one of the largest killers in this country, and we don’t want cigarettes in any way to be, you know, to taste better, so I fully support a ban.”

READ MORE: Alberta convenience store owners leery about possibility of menthol tobacco ban

Health, medical and anti-smoking groups argue banning menthol is necessary because of its popularity among young people.

“One in three youth smokers are using menthol compared to only one in 20 adult smokers, so this is clearly a starter product for young people,” says Les Hagen, Action on Smoking and Health.

According to recent surveys, 6,500 Alberta youth use flavoured tobacco.