News releases

Canadian Cancer Society – Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac –
 Non-Smokers’ Rights Association – Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco – Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

November 11, 2002

Put the Heat on Big Tobacco:
KOOL Cigarettes Prompt Call for Tougher Tobacco Control


(Ottawa) – Health agencies today called on Canada’s Minister of Health to respond to the recent launch of KOOL cigarettes by strengthening Canada’s advertising restrictions on tobacco. In a letter to Minister Anne McLellan, the Canadian health groups are calling for strengthening of Canada’s controls on tobacco marketing.

The letter comes on the heels of the launch by British American Tobacco (BAT) of a Canadian version of KOOL cigarettes. KOOL is the first international brand to be launched in Canada by BAT since it assumed full ownership of Imperial Tobacco in early 2000. The new KOOL and KOOL FROST were launched a few weeks ago through internet marketing and bar promotions.

 “KOOL cigarettes highlight five major flaws in Canada’s tobacco control regime,” said Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. “Each of these flaws in itself is reason for the Minister of Health to intervene quickly: together they provide a compelling rationale to strengthen federal measures to control tobacco.”

Dr. Kapur outlined the five weaknesses highlighted by the launch of this new brand. “Firstly, the launch of KOOL cigarettes shows that tobacco companies can reach young Canadians through the internet. Secondly, it shows that BAT is interested in launching brands which are advertised in Canada through magazines imported from the United States. Thirdly, they show the important role that retail stores play in the promotion of cigarettes. Fourthly, they show that Canada’s failure to require health warnings on tobacco promotion encourages the companies to expand their advertising. Fifthly, they show that the proposed ban on ‘light’ and ‘mild’ needs to be much broader to cover all misleading words and images, of which “KOOL Frost,” and “cooling menthol” are current examples.”

KOOL cigarettes were launched by Imperial Tobacco with a website (www.theicebox.ca) promoting nightclub events and a contest (for smokers only) to attend the events. “This internet launch shows that tobacco companies can slip through loopholes in the Tobacco Act to continue to market to adolescents,” explained Mr. Louis Gauvin of Quebec’s tobacco control coalition.

KOOL cigarettes are a flagship brand for BAT’s U.S. subsidiary, Brown and Williamson. “KOOL is one of the more heavily advertised youth brands in the United States,” explained Mr. Michael Perley of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco. “It is heavily promoted in popular youth magazines – like Rolling Stone, Maxim and Sports Illustrated.”

Ken Kyle of the Canadian Cancer Society explained that BAT has been able to create an image for this brand through the staging of nightclub events, and by circulating images of the event. Pictures mounted on the web-site show that the KOOL logo, colours and imagery is displayed without any indication that these cigarettes are both lethal and addictive. “Canada is almost unique in not requiring that health warnings accompany tobacco advertisements,” he said.

A similar regulatory void exists with respect to retail promotions. Although two provinces (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) have banned the display of cigarettes in retail stores where children are allowed, the federal government has not moved forward with the development of regulations governing retail displays.

"As we wait impatiently for the government to deliver on promises to ban misleading descriptors such as 'light' and 'mild', Imperial Tobacco has introduced yet another descriptor, 'Frost'," said Francis Thompson of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "Last year we had Player's Silver. Perhaps next we'll have Matinée Pure-as-the-driven snow. Without regulation, the tobacco industry can use any terms they like, even if they create the false impression that one brand gives less tar than another."

The groups are asking the Minister of Health to tighten federal control of tobacco promotions by:

  • Ending internet promotions of tobacco brands

  • Requiring health warnings on all tobacco promotions

  • Restricting the retail display of cigarette packages and promotions.

  • Developing effective methods to ban cross-border advertisements

  • Banning all terms which convey the wrongful impression that some cigarette brands provide smokers with less tar or nicotine.

Francis Thompson concluded: “We see that Big Tobacco is continuing to market aggressively to Canadian youth. We call on the Minister of Health to fulfill her responsibilities to protect children from tobacco marketing.”

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Contact Names:

Canadian Cancer Society
Mr. Ken Kyle 613 565-2522 x 301

Coalition québecoise pour le contrôle du tabac
 Mr. Louis Gauvin 514 598 5533

Non-Smokers’ Rights Association
Francis Thompson 613 230-4211

Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco
Michael Perley, 416 340 2992

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
Cynthia Callard 613 233 4878


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