Press Release

May 26, 2009

Stronger tobacco law welcomed.
Physicians call for speedy removal from the market of flavoured tobacco products.

OTTAWA--(Marketwire - May 26, 2009) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada today applauded the introduction of legislation to close loopholes in the existing Tobacco Act that have allowed tobacco companies to sell candy-flavoured cigarillos to Canadian kids.

"For the past several years, tobacco companies have been allowed to package starter products for nicotine addiction in brightly coloured 'try-me' plastic tubes that resemble lip-gloss or markers and to price them to be competitive with candy bars and potato chips," said Dr. Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "A law like this is needed to end this egregious marketing."Although many adults are unfamiliar with these new tobacco products, PSC's analysis of Health Canada smoking surveys found that they were as commonly tried by high school-aged Canadians as were conventional cigarettes. "Tobacco companies have managed to entice one in three teenagers to give these products a try - including over one hundred thousand Canadian children who have never tried cigarettes," said Dr. Kapur.

PSC has been informed that the Act to Amend the Tobacco Act, tabled today, will end print advertising of tobacco products and effectively ban most of the youth-oriented flavoured tobacco products.

"By ending the use of the recently-introduced flavourings and further curbing marketing, this law will go a long way to protecting young Canadians from an unscrupulous tobacco industry," said Dr. Kapur. "But it will only protect kids if it is passed and put into force. For that reason, we call on parliament to make this law as strong as possible, pass this law before the summer recess and we call on the government to ensure these products are off the shelves immediately thereafter."

PSC notes that a similar law was passed by the Ontario legislature has had no effect on the marketing practices of tobacco companies that make these products, or companies like Macs Milk, Hasty Market and Seven Eleven which sell them. "Six months ago, the Ontario legislature passed bill 124, but unexplained delays by the Ontario government have resulted in that legislation not yet being proclaimed into law."

"This is only the fifth time in Canadian history that a health minister has brought to Parliament a law to increase controls on tobacco marketing," remarked Dr. Kapur. "On that basis alone, this is an event to be welcomed. We are also particularly appreciative of the priority to this issue given by the new Health Minister, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq."

This bill, when passed, will fulfill a commitment made during the election campaign last September by the Prime Minister. "Health policy plays an enormously important role in the prevention of disease," stressed Dr. Kapur."

We are grateful to the leadership shown by legislators across Canada to end the sale of these products." Since May of 2008, private members' bills to end the sale of flavoured cigarillos had been introduced in Nova Scotia by MLA, Joan Massey, in House of Commons by M.P. Judy Wasylycia-Leis and in Ontario by MPPs France Gélinas and Dave Levac.

PSC supports the implementation of public measures to phase out tobacco use, and has called for a complete ban on tobacco advertising since its creation in 1985.


For information:  Cynthia Callard  (613) 233 4878

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