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A Canadian outdoor ad company has decided to rebuff tobacco marketers on what it calls "moral" grounds. But the move comes just before a new law would ban outdoor-and just about all other-tobacco advertising anyway.

Toronto-based Murad Communications has decided to stop taking tobacco advertising on its boards and wall spaces in major cities across Canada. The decision comes after Murad finished a one-year trial period of running tobacco ads.

Tobacco advertising became legal again in Canada a little more than a year ago, when the nation's Supreme Court overturned a seven-year ban.

Murad President Michael Chesney said he "has decided that even though the sweet aroma of the tobacco industry green is as smooth as a Havana cigar, the aftertaste is as stale as a tray full o' butts. Quite simply as a moral issue, tobacco is far too addictive and harmful to promote just for the sake of profit."

Mr. Chesney added that he expects it is just a matter of time before tobacco advertising is once again banned.


That day won't come until the new year, however.

The House of Commons recessed for Christmas before a third, and final, reading of the new bill to regulate the manufacture, sale, labeling and promotion of tobacco products.

The legislators reconvene Feb. 3. The bill is expected to pass as soon as the third reading takes place, which will be on the agenda for Parliament in early February.

Between the first and second readings, some slight modifications to the language of the bill were made by the Standing Committee on Health, but nothing that significantly changed the intent of the bill.

The bill, in part, bans virtually all forms of tobacco advertising, with the only exception being adult magazines. All other media, in-store and sponsorship activities will essentially end (AA, Dec. 2).

On the sponsorship side, tobacco companies will not be allowed to use any product or company name in the title of an event as they do now, for example the DuMaurier Jazz Festival and the Player's Open in tennis.

That will effectively end tobacco sponsorship of events since that was the companies' main payback for backing them.

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