News Releases

April 28, 1999

Secret Documents Show Imperial Tobacco Targeted Youth "Starters"

(Montreal) – Over 6,000 pages of secret tobacco documents are being made public today by Canadian health agencies. These documents reveal some of the secret research, marketing and business strategies of Imperial Tobacco, Canada’s largest cigarette company. Health agencies today launched a new web-site on which this new information is available, www.tobaccopapers.org."

"We are touching the tip of the iceberg," said Eric LeGresley, a Canadian lawyer who was a delegate from the World Health Organization on the first group to research the depository of documents of British America Tobacco (BAT) in Guildford, England. "Although it was the Minnesota law-suit settlement which cracked open the BAT vaults, the impact will be felt around the globe." BAT, the world’s second largest transnational tobacco company, controlled more than 13% of the world’s tobacco market before its recent merger with Rothmans. BAT has a controlling interest in IMASCO/Imperial Tobacco, which makes 70% of Canada’s cigarettes, including the two leading brands, du Maurier and Player’s.

"One of the most disturbing revelations is the deliberate targeting of Canada’s young people," said Francois Damphousse of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association. "These documents show the deliberateness with which Imperial Tobacco recognized that it needed to recruit young people to replace those smokers who quit or died. It shows how aware they were that youth are the key to their success."

Cynthia Callard of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada was also a member of the first team to visit the Guildford Depository. "We read only 500 of more than 45,000 files in the warehouse. Yet we came away with documents which reveal that the predatory marketing tactics of this industry are totally at odds with their public statements that they do not target Canada’s youth." Ms. Callard called for a quick government response. "This is more than enough evidence to justify a thorough investigation of this industry’s practices."

The health agencies are calling for Imperial Tobacco and its holding company IMASCO to be held accountable by its shareholders and by government. On Thursday, they will be asking shareholders at the IMASCO Annual General Meeting to hold the board of directors and management accountable for these deceptive business practices.

Based on this new evidence, the agencies are calling once again on the Prime Minister to appoint a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Canada’s tobacco industry.

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For information:

Cynthia Callard, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (613) 233 – 4878

Francois Damphousse, Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (514) 843 – 3250

Louis Gauvin Quebec Coalition on Tobacco Control (514) 598 – 5533