Letter to the Minister of
Curb Tobacco Promotions.
Minister of Health
House of Commons
writing today to urge you to direct your department to
address the legal and regulatory weaknesses that have
allowed Imperial Tobacco to use lifestyle advertising to
launch “KOOL” and “KOOL FROST” cigarettes in Canada.
There are at
least five problems with the federal regulatory system
illustrated through the launch of KOOL cigarettes.
Internet advertising of cigarettes.
KOOL cigarettes were launched through the creation
of a new web-site, marketing nightclub events.
Long after the events are passed, the web-site
continues to show KOOL cigarettes in a club
atmosphere – a highly compelling marketing image.
Imperial Tobacco has been able to take advantage of
the world wide web, despite the fact that it is not
one of the four ‘allowable’ venues for tobacco or
sponsorship advertising (i.e., on site of sponsored
events, by direct mail to adults, in publications
with 85% adult readership, in venues where minors
are not allowed by law).
border advertising of cigarettes
KOOL is the first international brand to be launched
by BAT since it assumed total direction of Imperial
Tobacco two years ago. KOOL cigarettes are
advertised through car racing and advertisements in
imported publications popular with young Canadians.
Retail displays of cigarettes
The greatest proportion of the tobacco
advertising budget is spent on retail promotions.
Although two provinces have moved to protect
children from retail displays of cigarettes, your
department has taken no steps to regulate these
displays, even though it proposed to do so almost
four years ago.
health warnings on cigarette advertising.
Canada is almost alone among developed countries
in not requiring health warning labels on tobacco
promotions. Although your predecessor, the
Hon. Allan Rock, proposed four years ago that health
warning messages would be required on all tobacco
promotions, no regulations to this effect have yet
been drafted. Many promotions will be allowed
(including nightclub signs) even after the ban on
sponsorships takes effect next October.
Imperial Tobacco has responded to your
predecessor’s proposals to ban ‘light’ and ‘mild’ by
using alternative terms on their newly-introduced
products. The KOOL package carries the terms
‘frost’ to convey a lower tar delivery, even though
there is no likelihood that smokers of the ‘frost’
brand will inhale lower levels of harmful
Canada has shown through the requirements for health
warnings on cigarettes that federal tobacco regulations
can play a powerful role in protecting public health. We
understand that your regulators are working on
improvements to the reporting and disclosure
regulations. Without diminishing the importance of
those housekeeping measures, we urge you to give
priority to the development of regulations which will
require health warnings on all promotions, and which
will end the use of misleading descriptors.
We note with
concern that Imperial Tobacco is able to use sponsorship
advertising for a brand which was not even on the market
when the Tobacco Act was introduced, despite promises
that these extensions were grandfathering provisions.
“Minister Rock emphasized that the [sponsorship
advertising] extension applies only to events and groups
receiving sponsorship funds from tobacco companies when
the Tobacco Act came into force on April 25, 1997” reads
Health Canada’s press release of June 3, 1998. KOOL
cigarettes were not even for sale in Canada at that
time, yet BAT/Imperial Tobacco has been able to launch
new events without impediment.
forward to discussing with you ways in which we can
support the strengthening of Canada’s health protection
québecoise pour le contrôle du tabac
Campaign for Action on Tobacco
for a Smoke-Free Canada
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