Canada's tobacco industry hit by tough ad regulations

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OTTAWA - Canada's Health Minister David Dingwall has announced a tough new tobacco policy that will severely curtail advertising and promotion of cigarettes as well as impose new taxes and controls on how cigarettes are manufactured. The legislation will be introduced to Parliament next week with an expected approval from the House of Commons and Cabinet.

The new policy will ban all broadcast ads, billboards and other types of display ads, as well as the use of company logos and other identifying messages on baseball caps, duffle bags and other non-tobacco products.

However, one ad medium for tobacco products will remain - print publications with an adult readership. Dingwall says the new policy should meet the legal bindings set out in the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that rescinded the ad ban on tobacco which had been in place since 1988.

Also affected is tobacco companies' involvement in sponsorship advertising. The industry spends about $50m a year to support cultural and sporting events, most of which contain company or product names in their title. Dingwall says the new policy will place severe restrictions on this type of sponsorship advertising and will not allow tobacco companies to name events with the brand name of their company or product.

The tobacco policy also introduces new taxes to the industry, including new excise taxes and a three-year extension of a $50m surtax on profits which were announced by Finance Minister Paul Martin in 1994.

The tobacco industry's response has been predictable. The Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, the industry association representing the country's three largest tobacco firms - Imasco Ltd. of Montreal, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. and RJR-Macdonald Inc., both of Toronto - has slammed the measures as "extreme and ineffective and likely illegal." CTMC Spokesperson Marie-Josee Lapointe notes: "It's as tough as the minister said it was going to be."

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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