Canadian Cancer Society Applauds Supreme Court Decision



    Calls on Federal Government to Strengthen Tobacco Act to Ban All Tobacco
    Advertising

    OTTAWA, June 28 /CNW/ - Today's judgment by the Supreme Court of Canada
upholding federal tobacco legislation is an important victory for the health
of Canadians, says the Canadian Cancer Society, which had intervener status in
the case.
    The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutional validity of federal
legislation restricting tobacco advertising, banning tobacco sponsorships and
requiring larger warnings on cigarette packages.
    "The Supreme Court has ruled that provisions of the Tobacco Act are fully
justifiable under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," says Rob
Cunningham, lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society.
"Given the evidence available today and the changed international context, we
urge federal Health Minister Tony Clement to bring forward a bill banning
tobacco advertising when Parliament returns this fall."
    The Tobacco Act, adopted by Parliament in 1997, contains partial
restrictions on tobacco advertising, but falls short of a total ban. As it
stands now, the Act allows advertising in publications, direct mail and bars.
In recent years, tobacco manufacturers have refrained from advertising because
of the industry's ongoing challenge to the constitutionality of the Tobacco
Act.
    "Now that the court challenge is over, the tobacco companies could start
advertising again," says Cunningham. "We are extremely concerned about the
threat to public health posed by this expected resumption of tobacco
advertising."
    Current smoking prevalence among Canadians aged 15 and older has been
dropping.
    "In the ten years that the Tobacco Act has been in force, smoking
prevalence in Canada has dropped from about 30 per cent to 18 per cent for
Canadians 15 and older," says Cunningham. "The current legislation, the
absence of tobacco advertising and the larger health warnings on cigarette
packages have all been factors in this decline. A total ban on tobacco
advertising would help keep these rates dropping."
    The new international tobacco treaty, the World Health Organization's
Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, requires the 148 participating
countries (including Canada) to ban advertising within five years (except
where it is constitutionally impossible). Tobacco advertising bans have been
implemented in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom,
Ireland, France, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal,
Italy, Poland, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa and India.
    "Although Canada has been a leader in many areas of tobacco control, when
it comes to tobacco advertising we're lagging behind other countries," says
Cunningham. "The health of Canadians depends on how quickly the federal
government implements a tobacco advertising ban."
    To read the Canadian Cancer Society's written argument filed in the
Supreme Court of Canada, visit:

    English: 
http://www.cancer.ca/vgn/images/portal/cit_86751114/41/57/2054178520ncic_Factu
m_30611_en.pdf

    French: 
http://www.cancer.ca/vgn/images/portal/cit_86755361/41/58/2054196034ncic_Factu
m_30611_fr.pdf

    To read the Supreme Court of Canada judgment, visit:
    English: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2007/2007scc30/2007scc30.html
    French: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/fr/2007/2007csc30/2007csc30.html

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of
life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer,
visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer
Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.


    Media Backgrounder

    The Tobacco Act: An overview

    In 1995, the federal government enacted the Tobacco Products Control Act
(the predecessor to the current Tobacco Act) which banned almost all tobacco
advertising. In a 1995 judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the
legislation saying the government had not presented enough evidence to justify
a ban.
    As a result of this legislation being struck down, the current Tobacco
Act containing significant restrictions on tobacco advertising (but not a
total ban on advertising), was adopted by Parliament in 1997. In the same
year, Canada's three major tobacco manufacturers - Imperial Tobacco Canada
Ltd., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Inc. and JTI-Macdonald Corp. - took the
federal government to court. They argued that restrictions on tobacco
advertising, as found in the Tobacco Act, unjustifiably restricted their
constitutional right to freedom of expression.
    On December 15, 2002, the Quebec Superior Court upheld the legislation in
its entirety. In its judgment, the Superior Court was strongly critical of
tobacco industry marketing practices and concluded that a total ban on tobacco
advertising may now be justifiable.
    On August 22, 2005, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld almost all of the
legislation.
    The Supreme Court of Canada heard the case on February 19, 2007.

    Role of the Canadian Cancer Society

    The Canadian Cancer Society has been an intervener in this case since
1997 given the crucial public health importance of the legislation.
Approximately 30 per cent of cancer deaths and 85 per cent of lung cancer
deaths are caused by tobacco. In 2007, it is estimated that 23,300 Canadians
will be diagnosed with lung cancer and approximately 19,900 will die of this
disease. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in
Canada.
    "The Canadian Cancer Society is appreciative of the federal government's
efforts, together with the six provinces, in defending the tobacco
legislation," says Rob Cunningham, Canadian Cancer Society lawyer and Senior
Policy Analyst.
    Six provinces had intervener status in the case - British Columbia,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of
life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer,
visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer
Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.




For further information:

For further information: Rob Cunningham, Canadian Cancer Society, (613)
565-2522, ext. 305; Alexa Giorgi, Bilingual Communications Specialist,
Canadian Cancer Society, Tel. (416) 934-5681

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Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

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