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Canadian Tobacco Companies Self-Impose Advertising Regulations


February 1996

In response to a government attempt to ban cigarette advertising, Canadian cigarette companies have agreed to a series of self-imposed advertising regulations (Rosanna Tamburri, "Canada May Revive Ban on Tobacco Ads As Part of Tough Antismoking Measures," Wall Street Journal, December 12, 1995, p. B10; Staff Reporter, "Tobacco Companies in Canada to Resume Ads Under Own Code," Wall Street Journal, December 20, 1995, p. B6).

The government proposed new anti-smoking measures after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in September that a complete ban on tobacco advertising was unconstitutional (RJR - MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), Nos. 23460 and 23490 (Canadian SupCt September 21, 1995)). In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the government had not established the link between advertising and smoking, a link necessary to justify the complete advertising ban.

[A copy of the yet-unpublished 113-page ruling is available from the National Drug Strategy Network for $10.00. The ruling can also be accessed from the National Clearinghouse on Tobacco and Health (Canada) Web page at]

Before announcing the government's new proposed measures, Canadian Health Minister Diane Marleau said the evidence linking advertising and smoking was enough to justify reinstating the advertising ban. Marleau was also proposing to limit tobacco company sponsorship of sporting and other events and institute a code on labelling and packaging. The proposal was sent to the Canadian Parliament for action.

According to the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council, a tobacco industry trade association, the industry planned on starting advertising again in January under their self-imposed regulations. The companies agreed to prohibit cigarette advertising in radio and on television. They also agreed to submit all print advertising to an independent review board. The board would screen for any advertising that included promotion of "lifestyle."

Health Minister Marleau said she would continue to push the Canadian Parliament to adopt an advertising ban.