The May 3 and May 10 issues of the Georgia Straight contained ads for “Skoal Long Cut Citrus smokeless tobacco”.

This is a flavoured snuff product. Why flavoured? Because snuff is tobacco that is consumed by putting it in your mouth. Tobacco is a toxic substance, and the natural reaction of anyone who attempts to consume snuff for the first time is to spit it out. Quickly. Giving a cherry or citrus flavour to snuff greatly increases the odds that a snuff user, especially a child, will try it more than once.

Snuff is at least as toxic as cigarettes. Usage of it is not as socially unacceptable as cigarettes, mainly because people who use it don’t make the entire room smell like dead animals. They still get those yellow teeth, though. The tobacco industry would very much like to sell the idea of an alternative nicotine delivery system, and they have a willing accomplice in the Georgia Straight.

The Georgia Straight has a long history of taking the tobacco industry’s money. During the 1990's, when the tobacco industry used sponsorships of motor racing, fashion shows, golf, tennis, jazz concerts, and fireworks displays to evade restrictions on cigarette advertising, the pages of the Georgia Straight were littered with ads for these “products”.During 1996 and 1997, when earlier restrictions on cigarette advertising imposed by Parliament were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, advertisements for “Canadian Classics” cigarettes appeared weekly in the Georgia Straight.

Airspace Action on Smoking and Health has a long history of opposition to flavoured snuff products. We managed to get a private member’s bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly that would have outlawed the sale of such products in British Columbia. It’s time to re-visit this idea.

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