LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Tobacco advocates used to being on the defensive in their own country are fuming over a Canadian proposal they say could essentially ban some American leaf often used in cigarettes sold across the northern border.
The measure winding through Canada's parliament would outlaw selling tobacco embellished with fruit and candy flavors, which health officials say entice youngsters to smoke. Supporters of the cash crop worry American burley - a variety commonly blended with other types of tobacco and laced with flavors to smooth its harsh taste - will be snarled in the ban and encourage other countries to enact similar restrictions.
The bill was passed by Canada's House of Commons this week and went to the Senate. Tobacco officials and their congressmen are working hard to keep the bill from passing, arguing the livelihoodof farmers and manufacturers is in jeopardy.
Roger Quarles, president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative in Lexington, Ky., said the flavorings added to burley are undetectable to consumers.
"They've dumped our American-blend cigarettes in the same class as something that tastes like candy," said Quarles, who grows about 100,000 pounds of burley each year and recently planted his 38th tobacco crop in central Kentucky.
A spokeswoman for Canada's health department, Christelle Legault, said the bill has no restrictions on burley, but instead is aimed at making cigarettes less accessible and appealing to