News release

October 21, 2005

Imperial Tobacco’s closure of tobacco plants is an opportunity to say “good buy”

 (Ottawa)  Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) today called on the government to stop the “rape and run” tactics of tobacco business corporations by buying tobacco companies outright and seeing that they are run in the public interest to phase out tobacco completely by 2030.

 “Yesterday’s announcement by Imperial Tobacco that they would close their manufacturing plants and lay off 650 workers was entirely predictable.” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “Canada is making great strides at reducing tobacco use, therefore the industry is acting to protect its profits by reducing costs and destabilize the cigarette market.”

 “This announced plant closure is not good news,” Collishaw added.  “What Canada needs is an orderly made-in-Canada phase out of tobacco growing and cigarette manufacturing.  What we are getting is a profit-driven exercise by one of the world’s wealthiest multinational companies to create chaos and confusion in ways that erode public control over cigarette manufacturing.”  The removal of tobacco manufacturing will make it harder for the Canadian government to control contraband, and to regulate cigarette manufacture.

 “Canadians need a better strategy than British American Tobacco is prepared to offer,” said Collishaw.  “That better strategy can be provided by creating a public interest agency to manage the tobacco market and to phase it out by 2030.”

 Options for how such a new public interest agency could be created and structured have been detailed in a new publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Curing the Addiction to Profits: A supply-side approach to phasing out tobacco.

 “There are already strong public health reasons for the government to take over the tobacco industry. If BAT implements yesterday’s announcements, much of the Canadian capacity to control cigarette manufacturing in ways that reduce smoking will be lost.  That is why it is urgent for the federal government and all stakeholders to work quickly to develop a strategy for public management of this industry.”


For further information, contact Cynthia Callard or Neil Collishaw at 1 613 233 4878