Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 4 - February 2011
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Briefs

 

Kelowna bans smoking in parks

In Kelowna, BC, city council has effectively banned smoking at all city owned parks, unanimously endorsing the new bylaw last October. The ban will apply to all parks except those larger than 15 hectares, where smoking areas will be set up. Implementation of the new bylaw is set for February 2011.

 

Closing loopholes

The Canadian government is trying to close loopholes that allow cigar makers to continue producing the flavoured cigarillos that are popular with teen smokers, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said on December 2. In response to a question by NDP health critic Megan Leslie, Aglukkaq added Health Canada officials are taking another look at the current rules for cigarillos, which were updated last summer.

The Tories promised during the 2008 election to change the law to make cigarillos less enticing to teens. The new rules took effect last July, banning companies from adding flavouring to small cigars with 1.4g of tobacco or less, as well as the ones with filters and the ones sold as singles. Manufacturers changed the size slightly and removed filters in some cases, allowing them to continue selling the flavoured product.

 

Asthma rates falling in Canada

Fewer Canadian children are being diagnosed with asthma, likely because of reduced exposure to cigarette smoke, Statistics Canada says in a new study. Rates of the chronic inflammatory disease fell to their lowest level in more than a decade among children aged 2-7. Statcan found that 9.8% of children in this age group were diagnosed with asthma in 2008-09, down from 13.2% in 2000-01. The decline is most probably due to fewer Canadian children living in homes where adults smoke, the study says.

 

Fewer cigarillos sold

In 2009, the number of ‘little cigars’ sold in Canada has decreased for the first time since 2001.

Millions of little cigars sold

Year

 

Canada

 

Ontario

 

Quebec

 

2006

 

276

 

103

 

57

 

2007

 

403

 

115

 

120

 

2008

 

469

 

117

 

139

 

2009

 

467

 

112

 

129

 

Source: Health Canada Media Relations Officer Christelle Legault

 

 

 

The decrease is particularly evident in Quebec and Ontario.  The drop cannot be attributed to the provisions on little cigars in the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act of 2009.  The ban on many flavouring agents in little cigars and the requirement of a minimal number of them per package entered into force gradually in 2010.  The provisions of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which regulate the sale of cigarillos and the flavours, did not enter into force before July 2010.

Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, believes that the disappearance of tobacco products displays at points of purchase in the two biggest provinces, since May 31, 2008, contributed to the decrease of impulsive purchases, particularly for little cigars.  Even if the volume of cigarillos sold increased in 2010, the absence of ‘power walls’ would help contain the increase, says Cunningham.  He also wonders about the impact of a regulation specific to Quebec.  Since June 1, 2009, the amount paid within one sale by a consumer for the purchase of one or several tobacco products, other than cigarettes, must be higher than $10, unless the product is sold in a package that contains at least 10 units.

 

Bloomberg backs Uruguay’s laws

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, according to The New York Times, telephoned the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, on November 15, to pledge his financial assistance to that nation’s fight against Philip Morris International (PMI); the same day COP-4 began.  The South American country of 3.5 million people has been forced by PMI to defend its tobacco control measures before the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes. Bloomberg, a billionaire with a long record of anti-smoking activism, announced he would contribute to Uruguay’s legal defence some of the US $375 million he has set aside in a fund for anti-tobacco causes.

 

Suing tobacco manufacturers

The Alberta government announced on October 25 that it will join other provinces, such as British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick, in launching legal action against large tobacco companies to recover smoking-related health costs. Its estimated tobacco use costs the Alberta health system a minimum $500 million annually and potentially up to $1 billion or more, according to studies. Alberta is seeking $10 billion in compensation. The province passed legislation a year ago allowing it to go down this route. In November 2009, the Alberta Tory government approved Bill 48, Crown’s Right of Recovery Act, allowing it to sue tobacco companies for alleged misrepresentation of their products.

 

Non-smoking majority in prisons

In mid-April 2008, when it was still legal to possess cigarettes in federal prisons and to smoke them outside, 31% of detainees declared themselves to be non-smokers, this according to Correctional Services Canada.

From June 2008, it became forbidden to possess cigarettes and to smoke inside or outside any federal detention centre. This measure was put in place with support systems to help people quit smoking, including psychological services and pharmacological aids.

In mid-September 2010, 55% of detainees were reported to be non-smokers. The fact that this number is not 100% is because the population continually changes, as some of those incarcerated in 2008 have died or completed their sentences, while their cells have been filled with new prisoners who, for the most part, are smokers.

 

No smoking in cars in Leduc, Alberta

Leduc City Council passed a city bylaw that protects minors (18 and under) from being in vehicles while someone is smoking. Council passed second and third readings of the bylaw by a vote of 5-2 at their regular council meeting on December 13. The bylaw prohibits anyone from smoking in a vehicle while a minor is present, even if the vehicle has an open window or sunroof. Penalties associated with this new bylaw will be $100 for a first offence and $200 for subsequent offences.

The bylaw will take effect on July 2, 2011, after an extensive public education campaign in Leduc in cooperation with the Canadian Cancer Society and other public health organizations. Leduc is the second Alberta municipality to enact this type of bylaw. The Town of Okotoks passed their Smoke-Free Vehicles for Children Bylaw on September 1, 2008.

 

Contraband much lower than in 2008

On November 17, 2010, during a presentation at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer & Retail Conference, Louis Camilleri, chairman and chief executive officer of Philip Morris International (PMI), underlined the “increased enforcement [of laws] in Canada” as a “positive development” in illicit trade.  The big boss of the largest cigarette supplier in the world also estimates that the present size of illicit trade as a percentage of cigarette consumption in Canada would be BETWEEN 10-20 %. That is a serious drop. In a slide show for shareholders on May 12, 2010, Camilleri’s estimate was 30%. In September 2008, the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers’ Council had released a survey showing that contraband provided 33% of cigarettes sold in Canada, 40% in Quebec and 49% in Ontario.

Since its report of earnings for the third quarter of 2009, PMI, owner of Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, has systematically attributed the growth of tax-paid cigarettes sales in Canada to the anti-contraband measures by the governments. British American Tobacco, owner of Imperial Tobacco Canada, did the same in its 2009 annual report and its mid-2010 report.

 

Smoke-free cars in Newfoundland

On December 13, 2010, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health and Community Services, Jerome Kennedy, introduced Bill 52, An Act to Amend the Smoke-free Environments Act.  The bill will take effect May 31, 2011, and will prohibit smoking in vehicles carrying a person under age 16.  Seven provinces and territories have legislation: BC, SK, MB, ON, NB, NS, PEI and Yukon.  Nova Scotia and PEI have 19 as the applicable age; the Yukon has age 18; the others have age 16. 

The bill will also remove the existing exception that allows designated smoking rooms (DSRs) in private workplaces.   Although there may not be any DSRs in the province in private workplaces, the exception is still there in the legislation.