Will a recent change to tobacco laws further lower the rate of smoking? The Canadian government hopes so.
The ban on menthol flavouring, which officially went into effect about a week ago, is the latest in a trend toward removing flavor from all tobacco products. In 2009 the Conservative government banned most flavoured tobacco products, but that ban did not extend to menthol cigarettes. Until now. Recent changes have made the flavour of menthol off limits as well.
Because of their minty flavour the government was of the belief that menthol flavoured smokes encouraged youth experimentation. Not everyone agrees.
Mark Smith of Moose Jaw is a former menthol smoker and he doesn't think the new law will have much impact.
"I think people will just switch over to regular cigarettes. I don't think we'll lose a lot of smokers because of this. I don't think kids start smoking because of flavoured tobacco".
According to a Health Canada report released last year about 6% of Canadian students between grades 6 and 12 reported using tobacco products. About half that use came from menthol cigarettes.
Government statistics continue to point to smoking as the leading cause of illness and premature death in Canada. Some estimates peg the cost to the health care system at about $4 billion a year.