Saskatchewan will defend Tobacco Control Act

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Tobacco company to appeal Sask. law restricting cigarette advertising

Canadian Press, Friday, October 11, 2002

REGINA (CP) - A major tobacco company is appealing a court decision that upheld the Saskatchewan government's right to restrict cigarette advertising.

Health Minister John Nilson said Friday the government has been informed that Rothmans, Benson & Hedges is continuing its fight against the province's Tobacco Control Act.

"We know from looking right across the world that every time innovative legislation shows up, the tobacco companies are right there to challenge it," Nilson said.

"Our goal will be to defend our legislation because we think it's good legislation."

Since March, the act has prohibited the display of tobacco products in stores accessible to people under age 18.

Last month the province won a Court of Queen's Bench ruling upholding the act.

Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, a major Canadian manufacturer of cigarettes, had challenged the province's right to enact the law.

Nilson said he was not surprised by the tobacco firm's appeal, filed on the last possible day.

Companies like Rothmans are concerned that Saskatchewan's law, which incorporated the toughest product-display provisions in Canada when passed, will be adopted by other jurisdictions.

Anticipating this, his department "spent a lot of time working with lawyers and policy people to deal effectively with what we knew some of the legal challenges would be," he said.

Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the Saskatchewan law will end up before the Supreme Court of Canada, Nilson predicted.

In September, Justice Ron Barclay said the common thread running through the province's legislation "is a concern for public health, and in particular a concern for protecting young Canadians from the hazard of tobacco consumption as it poses serious risks to their health."

Mary Smillie, a health-care educator who is president of the Saskatchewan Coalition for Tobacco Reduction, noted that Manitoba has copied Saskatchewan's tobacco-display provisions in a new bill.

(Regina Leader-Post)

© Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

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