Court Ruling Should Hasten Rules on Light Cigarettes
March 24, 2003
An Illinois court ruling against Philip Morris should spur Health Canada to ban the use of cigarette package labels 'light' and 'mild' says a Canadian physicians' organization.
"The U.S. court decision only adds to a substantial body of evidence supporting the banning of the terms "light" and "mild"," said Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "It's time for the Minister of Health to stop delaying and to order Canadian tobacco companies to stop using them."
On Friday, March 21, Illinois judge Nicholas Byron found that Philip Morris in violation of that state's Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. He ordered the company to pay US$10 billion in damages and said that "the course of conduct by Philip Morris related to its fraud in this case is outrageous, both because Philip Morris' motive was evil and the acts showed a reckless disregard for the consumers' rights."
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has again written the Minister of Health, the Hon. Anne McLellan and the Minister of Justice, the Hon. Martin Cauchon, to urge them to accelerate a ban on misleading cigarette descriptors.
Almost two years have passed since the former Minister of Health asked Canadian tobacco companies to stop using terms like 'light' and 'mild' on Canadian cigarettes on May 31, 2001. In December 2001, Health Canada issued a notice of intent to regulate an end to the use of 'light' and 'mild,' but no regulatory action has occurred since.
"The Minister has said more than once that she needs to get her 'ducks in a row' before she can protect Canadians from misleading cigarette packaging," said Dr. Kapur. "This court ruling is one more duck in a long row."
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For information: Cynthia Callard 613 233 4878
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