News Releases

Cheap cigarillos now more popular with Quebec youth than cigarettes
Doctors group says its time to close cigarillo-friendly loopholes in tobacco laws

Ottawa – November 22, 2007 

A new Quebec government survey shows that cigarillos have become more popular than cigarettes among Quebec teenagers and are undermining progress against smoking among youth.

The Quebec report found that although cigarette use among high school students in the last 30 days had fallen to 15% in 2006,  cigar and cigarillo use had jumped to 22%. 

“The government bowed to pressure from cigar manufacturers to have different rules for cigarettes than cigars.  But now cigar manufacturers are recruiting youth smokers at alarming rates,” explained Flory Doucas, Director of the Quebec office of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

“Manufacturers have been allowed to exploit loopholes in several laws which allows them to make cigarillos that look like cigarettes. Because the wrapping paper is made from tobacco leaves, they qualify as cigars, and are sold with smaller health warnings on the package, and can be sold in single sticks," said Ms. Doucas.  PSC is calling on Finance Canada and Health Canada to move quickly to close these loopholes.

To make these products even more appealing to teenagers, the companies add candy or liquor flavourings, such as honey, cherry, or rum. All of this combines to make these cigars and cigarillos very accessible and attractive to teenagers,” she explained.

Other countries have already amended their laws to protect youth from smoking.  Spain now requires that cigarillos also be sold in packages with no less than 20, and the Australian states of Tasmania and South Australia have banned flavourings.

While these cigarette look-alikes are sold across Canada, current information on their use by high school students is available only for Quebec.  Comparable data for Canada will not be available until reports from the 2006-2007 cross-Canada Youth Smoking Survey are published.

“Even without current data for all of Canada, we know there is a problem and it must be solved immediately.  There are loopholes in our laws, tobacco manufacturers are exploiting these loopholes and our children are being seduced by unscrupulous tobacco marketing,” declared Neil Collishaw, Research Director for  Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. 

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For further information:  

Neil Collishaw, Research Director, PSC, 1 613 233 4878
Flory Doucas, Director, Quebec office, PSC, 1 514 515 6780

 External Link:  Quebec report: