Cigarette Ads Banned

Cigarette makers take ad ban fight to Canada’s top court
Last Updated: Monday, February 19, 2007 | 10:09 AM ET
CBC News

The three largest cigarette makers in Canada enter on Monday the final phase of their decade-long legal battle against federal laws restricting advertising of their product.

Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., JTI-Macdonald Corp., and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges will face off against the federal government in the Supreme Court of Canada.

They will argue that the 1997 Tobacco Act — which includes bans on tobacco sponsorship, restrictions on how they advertise their products and requires large warnings on cigarette packages — violates their constitutional rights to freedom of expression.

The manufactures say they accept some prohibitions on promoting their product, including “lifestyle advertising” and advertising aimed at youth

While they say those are acceptable limits on their freedom of expression, the companies argue they should be allowed some freedom to advertise to adult smokers, since they do sell a legal product.

“What we’re asking for is a minimal window to exercise our constitutionally protected freedom of expression,” Catherine Doyle, a spokeswoman for Imperial Tobacco Canada, told the Canadian Press.

The law did not ban all tobacco advertising. The legislation allows brand advertising in places where young people are prohibited from entering. It also allows advertising in some publications and through direct mail.

But Doyle said the law is too vague and can be interpreted as being a total advertising ban.

“We want to have clarity on what constitutes legal advertising as allowed in the act.”

The act also requires larger graphic warning labels on packages of cigarettes. Instead of taking up a third of the size of a pack, the labels must occupy half the area of the fronts and backs of cigarette packs.

6 provinces, cancer society weigh in

The tobacco companies will be facing off against the federal government. Acting as interveners are the attorneys general of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, as well as the Canadian Cancer Society.

They are expected to tell the Supreme Court that federal advertising restrictions are clear and justifiable due to the dangers of smoking.

When the act became law in 1997, it was immediately challenged by the major cigarette makers.

A lower-court judge upheld the act entirely, but the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in 2005 that it’s unfair to bar tobacco companies from exhibiting their company names when they sponsor an event. However, the three judges said specific brand names cannot be used in those cases.

The Supreme Court hearing will last only a day. A decision won’t be handed down for several months.

With files from the Canadian Press

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks !

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