Imperial Tobacco Canada lives up to its corporate social responsibility promise



    EDMONTON, Sept. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Imperial Tobacco Canada today announced
that it will fulfill its commitment to test market a reduced harm product, as
compared to cigarettes, later this month with the introduction of
Swedish-style snus in Edmonton retail outlets.
    On May 7, the Company promised to initiate market tests in one or more
Canadian regions for a Swedish-style snus product. This was one of the
outcomes of Imperial Tobacco Canada's first Social Report, which also included
commitments on youth smoking prevention and the reduction and elimination of
illegal tobacco sales.
    "Many adult smokers continue to use tobacco and we believe the
responsible thing to do is to seek out and offer products that may
substantially reduce the health risks," said Benjamin Kemball, President and
CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada. "One school of thought in the tobacco control
field basically amounts to telling smokers their only choices are to 'quit or
die' in the hope they will quit. The other school of thought is that, with
about 5 million Canadian adults continuing to smoke, options that reduce the
health risks for those who choose not to quit should be pursued. We agree with
this second school of thought."
    Many independent health studies believe that the use of snus is
substantially less risky than cigarette smoking. However, there is no safe
tobacco product. The most effective way to avoid the risks is not to use any
tobacco products. The best way to reduce the risks of smoking is to quit. The
research does not necessarily mean that risk is lower for every type of
disease and every category of user. Results from research conducted in Sweden
have not yet been verified among Canadians.
    In late September, a test market will begin in Edmonton for Imperial
Tobacco Canada's Swedish-style snus. This is a smokeless, chewless and
spitless oral tobacco that undergoes a special heat-treatment pasteurization
which reduces the formation of tobacco-specific nitrosamines. These are
chemicals which have been associated with cancer and have historically been
found in other forms of oral tobacco.
    "Harm reduction is what any responsible company strives to do. It is what
we are striving to do. It is what our stakeholders, during our consultations
with them, have told us we should do," said Mr. Kemball. "The facts speak for
themselves. Sweden has highest usage of snus, the first EU country to lower
its smoking rates to below 20 percent and the lowest rate of lung cancer in
the industrialized world."
    Snus has been popular in Sweden since the 1970s, allowing long-term
research into its use and harm reduction potential. A long-term study, begun
in 1978 by Dr. Olof Nyren and his colleagues at the Clinical Epidemiology Unit
at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute and involving 280,000 Swedish male
construction workers, found no increased risk of lung or oral cancer among
snus users compared to people who had never smoked. Imperial Tobacco Canada is
aware that this needs verification in Canada.
    The Company is initiating a post market surveillance program to
understand how snus use develops in Canada. This has been developed with the
intention of sharing the information with Health Canada and other
stakeholders.
    Imperial Tobacco Canada's Edmonton test market is designed to assess
consumer acceptance of snus. It will also monitor its use to compare it with
the Swedish experience that it serves as a gateway from smoking. The company
will offer its findings to Health Canada. Decisions on future test markets or
expansion will be made later.
    While the initial goal is to test the market, obviously, as a commercial
enterprise, Imperial Tobacco Canada hopes that in longer term snus will become
commercially viable.
    Imperial Tobacco Canada hopes to work with Health Canada and others in
the tobacco control field to look an appropriate regulatory framework for this
new tobacco category.
    "This does not - repeat not - mean we want to reopen all the laws
governing the marketing and sale of existing tobacco products in Canada," said
Mr. Kemball. "What it does mean is that if harm reduction products are to be
pursued and be effective, we need to look at how best to regulate this new
category in a way that makes people aware of their choices and accurately
reflects the risk-reduction potential and the remaining health risks."

    This press release and annexes are subject to the Federal Tobacco Act. As
    such, it should only be used in a publication of 85% adult readership.

    
                              SNUS BACKGROUNDER
                              -----------------

                 WHAT IS "SNUS" AND WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE?
                 ------------------------------------------

                                   OVERVIEW
                                   --------

    There is no such thing as a safe tobacco product, and the best way to
avoid health risks is never to use them or to quit using them. However, around
five million adult Canadians smoke and some of them choose not to quit.
    Smokeless does not mean harmless, but some independent research states
that low-nitrosamine Swedish-style snus presents significantly lower health
risks than smoking. The research does not necessarily mean that risk is lower
for every type of disease and every category of users. Results from research
conducted in Sweden have not yet been verified among Canadians.
    Snus is a form of oral tobacco that undergoes pasteurization. It is
usually sold in small pouches ("teabags"). It is placed between the upper lip
and gum and does not involve chewing or spitting. It has been popular in
Sweden for several decades, permitting long-term research to be done on its
health impacts and use.
    The Swedish statistics show:

    - Daily smoking among adults in Sweden (18-84 years) 2005: Men - 13%;
      Women -17%. Source: FHI Swedish Institute for Public Health 2005

    - Daily snus use among Swedish adults (18-84 years) 2005: Men - 22%
      Women -4%. Source: SCB Statistiska Centralbyran, Swedish Statistics
      2005

    Smoking rates for Swedish men is 13% and for women, 20%.

    A growing number of health groups and leading anti-tobacco lobbyists now
recognize that snus offer a harm-reduction option to adults who choose not to
quit.


                 THE RESEARCH - POTENTIAL FOR HARM REDUCTION
                 -------------------------------------------

    NOTE : Research does not necessarily mean that risk is lower for every
type of disease and every category of users. Results from research conducted
in Sweden have not yet been verified among Canadians.

    JULY 2007: In the European Union, where snus has been banned everywhere
except in Sweden since 1992, calls are growing for sales to be allowed. This
is being studied by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging
and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR report, 2007).
    In its interim report released in July 2007, SCENIHR states that snus is
"clearly less hazardous, or substantially less hazardous, than cigarette
smoking." SCENIHR - Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco Products, Preliminary
Report. Page 107.
    SCENIHR is now conducting further consultations on whether to lift the
snus ban. The interim report states that no tobacco product is safe and that
snus is addictive, and therefore "it would appear that smokeless tobacco use
should be generally discouraged and as far as possible prevented." If a wider
use of these products is permitted, "their hazards must be minimized and their
marketing and use carefully monitored."

    MAY 2007: Two studies published in The Lancet gained considerable
attention.

    1. Dr. Olof Nyren and his colleagues at the Clinical Epidemiology Unit at
Stockholm's Karolinska Institute studied 280,000 Swedish construction workers'
tobacco consumption habits from 1978-92, and then followed up with them in
2004.
    The study, funded in part by the Swedish Cancer Society, found no
increased risk of lung or oral cancer compared to never-smokers. "Oral use of
Swedish moist snuff (snus) and risk for cancer of the mouth, lung, and
pancreas in male construction workers: a retrospective study." Reference: Luo
J, Ye W, Zendehdel K, Adami J, Boffetta P, Nyren O, Lancet, 2007, June 16;
369 (9578); 2015-20
    It did find evidence that snus users were about twice as likely than
never-smokers to contract pancreatic cancer, but less likely than smokers. The
report recommended snus be listed as a "tentative" risk factor for pancreatic
cancer.

    2. Dr. Coral Gartner and colleagues at Australia's University of
Queensland School of Population Health assessed the potential impacts of
introducing snus in that country. They compared data on life expectancy
between people with varying usage of tobacco and with never-smokers. They
found little difference between life expectancy for snus users compared to
smokers who quit tobacco entirely. "Assessment of Swedish snus for tobacco
harm reduction: an epidemiological modeling study." Gartner, Hall, Vos,
Bertram, Wallace, Lim. The Lancet, May 10 2007.
    The Gartner study, which was funded by the National Health and Research
Council, stated: "Current Smokers who switch to snus rather than continuing to
smoke can realize substantial health gains/ Snus could be a net benefit to
health at the population level if it is adopted in sufficient numbers by
inveterate smokers. Relaxing current restrictions on the sale of snus (in
Australia) is more likely to produce a net benefit than harm, with the size of
the benefit dependant on how many inveterate smokers switch to snus."

    FEBRUARY 2007: A New Zealand Health Technology Assessment report found
significant harm reduction benefits appeared to be offered by snus. "A
systematic review of the health effects of modified smokeless tobacco
products." Marita Broadstock. Funded through New Zealand's ministry of health,
with input from cancer experts.
    While it noted some discrepancies in the 18 studies reviewed and call from
more research into some health impacts, it stated in its conclusion:

    "The evidence from this review suggests that the harm of using snus,
    relative to non tobacco use, is significantly less than found for smoking
    with respect to cancers of the head, neck and gastro-intestinal region,
    and cardiovascular disease events. While studies were underpowered to
    detect small increases in mortality risk compared with no tobacco use,
    results suggested that the product does not lead to significant risks for
    these outcomes."

    More information is available in other public sources.

                      SOME FACTS ABOUT THE SNUS PRODUCT
                      ---------------------------------

    Snus is one of a range of smokeless tobacco products that includes nasal
snuff, chewing tobacco and moist and dry snuffs.

    History: Consuming smokeless tobacco was popular before the safety match
was invented in 1844 and the industrial production of cigarettes and cigars
became possible at the end of the 19th century. Smokeless tobacco remained
popular in several countries, including Sweden, Norway, India and the USA.

    Preparation: Swedish-style snus differs from other smokeless tobacco in
the way it undergoes a heating process called pasteurization. This heating
process reduces the formation of tobacco specific nitrosamines - chemicals
which are potentially carcinogenic and have historically been found in other
forms of oral tobacco, such as chewing tobacco from the US and India. However,
there is no safe product and the most effective way to avoid the risk is not
to use any tobacco products.

    Use: Snus is usually placed between the upper lip and gum, either loose or
in tiny sachets like miniature tea bags. It's held in the mouth, without
chewing or sucking.

    Nicotine content: This is about the same as a smoker would get from a
cigarette, though just as cigarettes vary in strength, so do varieties of
snus.

    No spitting: Unlike many other forms of smokeless tobacco, snus is not
chewed, and does not cause excessive saliva to form in the mouth. Therefore,
it does not cause users to spit as is the case with many other forms of
chewing tobacco.

                 IMPERIAL TOBACCO CANADA'S SNUS TEST-MARKET

    As a company, we aspire to develop and make available, tobacco products
with critical mass appeal that will generate fewer toxic substances. Although
we acknowledge that reduced risk tobacco products will not eliminate all risk
associated with tobacco consumption, we are committed to exploring the market
acceptability of potentially less risky tobacco categories, such as snus.
    Because there are currently about five million adult smokers in Canada,
some of whom choose not to quit, our priorities include seeking out and
bringing to the Canadian market products that have been observed to be less
harmful.
    Smokeless doesn't mean harmless, and the best way to avoid risks is not to
use any tobacco products. While independent health experts believe that the
use of snus is substantially less risky than cigarette smoking, there is no
safe tobacco product. The most effective way to avoid the risk is not to use
any tobacco products. The best way to reduce the risk of smoking is to quit.
Research does not necessarily mean that risk is lower for every type of
disease and every category of users. Results from research conducted in Sweden
have not yet been verified among Canadians.
    Imperial Tobacco Canada will begin test-marketing snus to adult consumers
in Edmonton, beginning September 24. Snus will be available to adults only.
    Edmonton was chosen as the test market because it was found to be a city
with variables that enable robust findings, allowing us to make decisions
regarding the rest of Canada. Any further launches will be considered at a
later date.
    Our objectives initially are to test consumer acceptance of the product in
Canada. We are not looking for any great sales or profits in the short run,
but rather to learn from the experience.
    We hope to engage with external stakeholders and Health Canada to ensure
that snus is regulated in Canada under a regulatory framework appropriate to
this product category.
    The Swedish data we have seen also indicates that snus does not lead to
people starting smoking, but we are aware this needs verification here.
    That is why we are initiating a post-market surveillance program to
understand how snus use develops in Canada. If there is clear evidence to the
contrary then we will have to reassess. This program was developed with the
intention of sharing the information with Health Canada and other
stakeholders.
    As for any other company, we would expect to make a profit, and we do not
see that as incompatible with harm reduction.
    Snus is a tobacco product and is therefore subject to the same laws as
other tobacco products. Snus is not a harmless product, so reasonable
regulations are essential. Under existing law, the packages will have four
alternating warnings. The mean amount of nicotine, lead and nitrosamines is
also displayed on snus packaging in accordance with federally mandated test
methods prescribed by law.
    Snus is available strictly to adult tobacco consumers.

                               THE CHALLENGES
                               --------------

    Snus is a tobacco product and as such is subject to the same laws as other
tobacco product.
    We believe that containers of snus should carry a clear health warning and
that the health warning should accurately reflect the health risk.
    We hope to engage with external stakeholders and Health Canada to ensure
that snus is regulated in Canada under a regulatory framework appropriate to
this product category.

                                   SUMMARY
                                   -------

    A growing body of research indicates that snus offers those who continue
to smoke an option with substantially reduced health risks compared with
smoking.
    It is one of Imperial Tobacco Canada's priorities to successfully bring to
the Canadian market a product that has been observed to be a less harmful
alternative to smoking and attempt to make this choice available to those
adult smokers who choose not to quit.
    We believe the extent to which this goal is achieved will depend upon how
governments, health authorities and other groups respond to the issue of
giving adult smokers and the general public an informed choice, based on the
evidence, as to the risks and benefits of snus.
    




For further information:

For further information: Catherine Doyle, (514) 932-6161 x2113


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