Canada bans fruit-flavored cigarettes

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada has banned the manufacture, importation and sale of most flavored cigarettes and small cigars, which have been slammed as little more than an enticement to get children to start smoking.

The law, which came into effect on Thursday, was backed by both government and opposition lawmakers. It also bans tobacco advertising in newspapers and magazines, closing a loophole that had allowed ads in publications that claimed they were read only by adults.

Anti-smoking groups said fruit-flavored cigarettes were marketed like candy to lure young smokers, but the industry complained the law was too broad and would unfairly restrict importation of U.S.-grown burley tobacco.

Lawmakers in U.S. tobacco-growing states have complained the law will cost U.S. jobs, and a U.S. Senator has been blocking the appointment of a White House trade official in a bid to make the Obama administration put pressure on Canada.

Anti-smoking groups say the jobs complaint is unfounded since Canada did not import any U.S.-grown burley tobacco in 2007 and 2008, and “American-style” cigarettes make up less than 1 percent of the Canadian market.

“The trade argument was invented out of thin air,” said Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Canadian ban is more sweeping than one imposed last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because it also includes small cigars. Nether ban includes menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Reporting by Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson