April 9 2008
Government gives Big Tobacco another “get-out-of-jail-free card”
(Ottawa-April 9, 2008) - The most deadly consumer products are being given a free pass under federal legislation introduced yesterday, claimed a Canadian health agency specializing in tobacco control.
“The new consumer safety product bill proposes to apply stronger legal controls on the makers of floor polish and coffee pots than it will on those who manufacture cigarettes,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC).
Bill C-52, An Act respecting the Safety of Consumer Products, was introduced and given first reading in Parliament on April 8, 2008. This legislation proposes government authority to pull dangerous products off the market and to require manufacturers to report adverse results from their products use. It also establishes clear corporate responsibility for harming consumers, with unlimited fines and jail terms up to 5 years for willful or reckless actions by manufacturers.
“These stronger measures are also strongly needed for tobacco products,” said Ms. Callard. “By contrast, government officials tell us they are hamstrung to respond to existing or new tobacco products, and tobacco companies have never been held to account by the federal government for their role in the premature death of one in five Canadians.”
She pointed to the recent example of tobacco companies introducing new candy-flavoured cigarillos. Dozens of new brands have been packaged in attractive colours and kid-friendly single sale packages that don’t even have health warnings, Ms. Callard explained. “Provisions like those in C-52 would allow Health Canada to pull these products off the market instead of its current course of action, which is to stand by and do nothing.”
For over 20 years, PSC has called for tobacco to be included in consumer safety legislation, such as the predecessor legislation to C-52, the Hazardous Products Act. “During Health Canada’s consultation on its food and consumer safety action plan, we again called for a consistent and coherent approach to consumer safety – one which did not continue to give tobacco companies immunity from meaningful control,” said Ms. Callard.
“Once again, without explanation, the government is proposing to give Big Tobacco a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card.’”
PSC is calling on parliamentarians to either remove the sections of Bill C-52 which exempt tobacco from its provisions, or to strengthen the out-dated 1997 Tobacco Act.