MP Deals Blow to Big Tobacco
March 31, 2004
Big tobacco suffered a major defeat yesterday when the Senate unanimously passed Bill C-260, An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes).
This Private Member's Bill, which will require tobacco manufacturers to produce cigarettes that meet strict flammability standards, was the initiative of John McKay, Member of Parliament for Scarborough East.
I am very gratified that we cleared the final hurdle for the Bill to reach this stage, says Mr. McKay. Canada sustains about 70 deaths per year, in addition to countless injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage. Much of the carnage could be eliminated or substantially reduced by forcing tobacco companies to meet these flammability standards. By dealing with this important issue, Parliament has fulfilled its duty to help protect the health and safety of its citizens.
Mr. McKay goes on to state: Parliament has resoundingly rejected the bogus arguments put forward by Big Tobacco against the passage of this Bill. The Tobacco companies resorted to their usual tactics of contending that more time was needed to study the issue, and using the smokescreen (pun intended) that they were only looking out for the health and safety of smokers. Any objective observer could see right through their arguments. The simple fact of the matter is, the technology to produce fire-safe cigarettes already exists, and could easily be implemented, but there is currently no requirement for the tobacco companies to make their product safer. Having these flammability standards in place will save lives.
I would like to commend Senator Yves Morin for recognizing the importance of this issue and sponsoring this Bill in the Senate. I would also like to thank all the Members of the House Standing Committee on Health, the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, the Minister of Health, and my colleagues from all of the political parties in both Houses of Parliament for working with me so openly and in a non-partisan manner to help this Bill go forward. This is a great day for Canadians.
It is expected that the Bill will receive Royal Assent today, and that the related regulations to be drafted by Department of Health officials should be complete by the summer of 2004.