News release

March 6, 2007 

Physician group welcomes British Columbia legislation.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) today congratulated British Columbia’s health minister, the Honourable George Abbott for introducing proposals to strengthen British Columbia’s tobacco laws.

“The proposals in Bill 10, the Tobacco Sales Amendment Act, will improve the health of British Columbians in three important ways,” said Neil Collishaw, PSC’s director of research.

“Firstly, they will ensure that everyone who lives or works in British Columbia can go to work or can gather in a public place without risking their health from second hand smoke.  Secondly, they will make it easier for children to remain non-smokers by banning smoking in school yards and community centres and removing retail promotions for tobacco, thus protecting them from both peer pressure and from tobacco industry marketing. Thirdly, by banning the sale of tobacco on government properties and public institutions, they will give British Columbians a clear message that their government is consistent in its efforts to reduce tobacco use.”

“British Columbia has played a leadership role in tobacco control since the early 1970s,” said Neil Collishaw.  “This has benefited British Columbians, who now have the lowest smoking rates in Canada. It has also benefited other Canadians, when their governments have followed British Columbia’s example."

British Columbia was the first Canadian jurisdiction to ban tobacco advertising, the first to take a hard line against tobacco companies, and the first to sue tobacco companies for the health care costs associated with tobacco use.  It was the only province which presented the Supreme Court with arguments that tobacco advertising should not be protected by the Charter during last month's hearing on the federal Tobacco Act.

““This law will address the flaw that has resulted in British Columbia being one of the few Canadian jurisdictions that still allow smoking in some bars and hospitality venues.” said Neil Collishaw. “By moving to protect all hospitality workers, this legislation will restore British Columbia to the forefront of tobacco control initiatives. Once the neighbouring jurisdictions of Alberta and Yukon territories follow with improvements to their laws, Canada will be very close to completely smoke-free.”

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Contact:  Neil Collishaw, 613 233 4878