Press Release

January 19, 2011

Multinational tobacco companies and retailers profit from youth smoking.

Survey results show that school-aged Canadians recruited into tobacco addiction are more likely to smoke brand-name cigarettes than contraband.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada released today results from the Youth Smoking Survey showing the brand preferences of children in elementary and high-schools, as well as estimates of the revenues received by governments, multinational tobacco companies and retailers from youth smoking.

"The big winners in the competition for starter smokers is Philip Morris International, whose Canadian subsidiary makes the brands favoured by more than a third of Canadian school students," said Cynthia Callard.  "Japan Tobacco International has the brand loyalty of one-quarter of these children and British American Tobacco comes in third as the manufacturer of brands preferred by one-sixth."  PSC found that native cigarettes were the usual brands of fewer than one-tenth of school-aged smokers.

"The big losers, of course, are the children whose current and future health is compromised by tobacco companies for whom the bottom line trumps public concern."

"From a health perspective, there is no difference between the risk of youth smoking legally or illegally manufactured cigarette," said Callard.  "Both are addictive, both produce the same mix of toxic chemicals, both can and do lead to illness and premature death."

"One million cigarettes are smoked by school-aged children in Canada each day," explained Cynthia Callard, PSC's executive director. "Most of these cigarettes are legally manufactured and are fully tax paid."

Based on the survey results for usual brand and quantities smoked by young smokers, and using Health Canada's estimates of industry profitability, PSC estimated that youth smoking in Canada results in annual profits to the industry of over $11 million and tax revenues to governments of over $83 million.

"By focusing on the 10% of the youth market that they have lost to illegal manufacturers, tobacco companies and retailers are trying to deflect attention from their own culpability in the continuation of the entirely preventable disease of tobacco addiction."

PSC is calling on governments to ensure that they do not profit from the youth tobacco sales by allocating the entirety of their revenues from taxes on cigarettes smoked by youth to smoking prevention programs, and is calling for new measures to hold manufacturers responsible for youth smoking.

The Youth Smoking Survey was conducted by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo on behalf of Health Canada. More than 50,000 students in grades 6 to 12 from across Canada (other than the northern territories) were involved in the study.  


For further  information:  Cynthia Callard, 613 233 4878

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