News Releases

October 28, 1998

Despite law, cigarette marketing continues to increase

(Ottawa) – Independent research shows that Canadian tobacco companies are now spending more on advertising than they were before Parliament re-introduced restrictions on cigarette promotions when it passed the Tobacco Act in 1997.

"Current restrictions on tobacco marketing aren’t working." said Dr. David Esdaile, vice-president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "They have failed to stop tobacco companies from increasing their marketing. They have failed to protect children from radio and television advertising of cigarette brand names. They have failed to fail to protect children from street-level seduction by extreme sports heroes."

"In defiance of the desire of Canadians and their parliamentarians to protect kids from tobacco marketing, these companies are marketing as aggressively and as pervasively as ever."

Dr. Esdaile cited figures showing that, for the first time in a quarter-century, tobacco brand names were being widely advertised on television and radio. ACNielsen data also showed that billboard and outdoor advertising had returned to levels higher than in 1988, when parliament began to restrict cigarette promotions.

"The ill-advised exemption for sponsorship advertising has allowed the worst forms of lifestyle advertising to continue. Worse, it has allowed it to increase" said Dr. Esdaile. "In many ways our children are more vulnerable than they were before the Tobacco Act was passed." He cited as particular concerns the absence of any health warnings on sponsorship advertisements, their presence near schools, and the use of sports figures and youthful heroes like racing drivers to appeal to youth.

"Four out of 5 Canadian kids told the government in 1994 that tobacco sponsorship was a way of advertising cigarettes. Since then, sponsorship advertising has grown by 300%," said Dr. Esdaile. "Radio advertisements have grown by over 1,000% in the same period."

Dr. Esdaile provided a disturbing association between the growth of tobacco advertising and increased smoking among young adults. "When tobacco advertising fell to historic lows in the early 1990s, the lowest smoking rates were also recorded. As advertising grew, so did smoking rates among younger smokers." Dr. Esdaile based his stateaments on smoking rates provided by Canada’s third largest tobacco company, RJR-Macdonald, to the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association in 1997.

In its brief to the Standing Committee on Health, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada is calling for amendments to C-42 to end the exemptions which allow the promotion of cigarette brand names in corner stores, on radio and television advertisements and on billboards and other outdoor signs.


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