Volume 95, Issue 16

Thursday, September 27, 2001
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Western tested World Trade Center

Homers come home for Homecoming

Rez chaos: Outcasts still waiting for rooms

'Forgotten purple' find home with USC

Art gallery reverses decision on Arab art

Five million reasons to cure ALS

Cigarette companies choke on label dispute

Cigarette companies choke on label dispute

By Pearl Van Grinsven
Gazette Writer

Smokers who think light cigarettes are better for their lungs than regular cigarettes might be mistaken.

According to Health Canada, such labels mislead smokers.

As a result, Health Canada hopes to ban 'light' and 'mild' descriptives on cigarette packs, said media spokesperson Andrew Swift.

Health Minister Allan Rock and other officials are presently working together with the Tobacco Control Program on how to go about banning the misleading terms, Swift said.

In response, Tobacco companies have one question for Health Canada – "What are you going to replace it with?" – said Imperial Tobacco spokesperson Michel Descoteaux.

Imperial Tobacco declined the voluntary order to remove the terms offered by Health Canada in May, he said.

"These terms have become navigational signs for smokers and removing them would be misleading," Descoteaux said. "Imperial is willing to remove them, but not without a replacement," he added.

"The refusal to remove the labels was not too surprising since [tobacco companies] have made so much money off such a deception. It's a 25-year fraud," said Garfield Mahood, director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association.

He explained that in 1974 and 1975, tobacco companies conducted research on cigarettes with holes in the filter. Researchers discovered the holes altered only the taste and still contained the same amount of tar content.

"The research that tobacco companies used to prove that lights had less toxins were misleading," Mahood said.

"The machine was getting less toxins because the holes were diluting them. But smokers consume the same amount to get their fix so it doesn't matter whether the toxins are diluted or not."

In 1976, the 'light' cigarette was introduced to smokers, who were under the assumption they had a lower tar content.

"People assume that light equals less," Mahood said. "The only reason 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes are labelled that way is because of the holes in the filter. Unlike light beer, which has less alcohol, 'light' cigarettes still have the same amount of tar content."

Mahood further explained there are no rules for cigarette content and labelling, which he suggested should be similar to food and beer. He also urged the government to take legal action against tobacco companies.

Yves-Thomas Dorval, spokesperson for Imperial Tobacco said the government should produce any research that demonstrates the risk of light cigarettes. "It seems that [light] cigarettes are less risky than regular cigarettes. If the [Ministry of Health] has proof to the contrary, they should let us see it," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001