Airspace President Errol Povah sees today's Supreme Court decision -- upholding the federal Tobacco Act -- as a "good news, bad news" development in the War on Tobacco.

"The good news is that the decision was unanimous (9 to 0), clearly indicating full recognition of the uniquely destructive nature of tobacco... and, therefore, a desire on the part of the Supreme Court to send a strong message to both the tobacco industry and society as a whole," Povah said.

"The bad news: The existing anti-tobacco legislation is so weak and full of loopholes that you could drive a stolen semi loaded with contraband cigarettes through it!"

Povah points out that anyone who suggests that there is currently a ban on tobacco advertising in Canada has been smoking something a little stronger (albeit less deadly) than tobacco.

"The vast majority of the magazines on the shelves at any convenience store, library, etc. are American...and many, if not most of them, still run tobacco ads... even in the supposedly Canadian versions of those magazines (most notably, Maxim magazine). Many freebie newspapers have recently been running half-page, full-colour ads for citrus-flavoured Skoal, one of the most popular (and now, tastier/more palatable) brands of chewing tobacco. Power walls -- scheduled to be phased out by Jan 1, 08 -- still exist. Gas stations and convenience stores seem to be engaged in a cigarette price war. Until recently, the price for a package of cigarettes was getting very close to the $10.00 a pack mark; earlier today, I saw a hand-made sandwich board sign advertising them for $5.99. Such signs must be recognized as 'tobacco advertising'...and included in new legislation."

The solution, Povah says, is brand new, meaningful, well-thought-through (with input only from health professionals...and excluding the tobacco industry), no loopholes anti-tobacco legislation.

"The time is long past due for the Government of Canada (specifically, the Ministry of Health) to take tobacco -- the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and premature death... and, subsequently, one of the biggest drains on our "in-crisis" health care system -- much more seriously. It's also time that we lived up to our commitment/obligations to the World Health Organization, when Canada ratified a WHO treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control."

Press release from Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada: New law needed to end tobacco advertising

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