Mandel needs to answer questions about connections to tobacco lobbyist
EDMONTON, AB (October 23, 2014):Alberta Liberal candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud Dr. Donna Wilson says her opponent, and current health minister, Stephen Mandel should clear the air about his recent musings on exempting menthol cigarettes and his close connections to tobacco lobbyists.
During a recent meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers, Stephen Mandel surprised media by saying electronic cigarettes were “dangerous materials”, but then refused to answer allegations that he is planning to exempt menthol cigarettes from a ban on all flavored tobacco products (Bill 206), which was passed last year but has yet to be proclaimed.
“Exempting menthol cigarettes makes no sense from a public health policy standpoint,” says Wilson, who is also a professor of nursing at the University of Alberta. “Menthol cigarettes are very attractive to young people, who then get hooked on smoking tobacco.
“There must be more to this story than Mr. Mandel is telling us.”
One connection that may help explain this inconsistency is Mandel’s close relationship to his 2004 mayoral campaign strategist Hal Danchilla, who is a registered lobbyist for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges. Danchilla is also a principal at Canadian Strategy Group, a lobbying firm that also employed Mandel’s former Chief of Staff, and current Principal Secretary to Premier Jim Prentice.
“Albertans have a right to know whether or not these personal or lobbying relationships are influencing Mandel’s decision to exempt menthol from the flavoured tobacco ban,” says Wilson. “Mr. Mandel needs to tell us if he or any other Ministry of Health officials have met with Hal Danchilla or anyone else from Canadian Strategy Group in the last year regarding an exemption for menthol cigarettes.”
Dr. Donna Wilson and the Alberta Liberal Party are campaigning on the message that it is time for Alberta to have both a strong economy AND a strong society. This means policy and performance in vital areas such as health care, seniors’ care, and education must be greatly improved.
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