Canada mulls ban on "light" cigarettes
OTTAWA, May 30 (Reuters) - Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock intends to challenge tobacco firms to remove cigarettes dubbed ``light'' and ``mild'', due to concerns that the designation does more harm than good, a spokeswoman for his office said on Wedne
If the companies do not take up the challenge, the government might go ahead and ban them, spokeswoman Catherine Lappe said.
Rock is to present his strategy in a speech on Thursday.
``He'll be issuing a challenge to the industry to remove light and mild (cigarettes),'' Lappe said.
While many people think the danger to health is lessened by smoking mild or light cigarettes, ``there is mounting evidence that it is just as addictive and that people compensate for the lower tar by covering the ventilation holes or smoking deeper,'' she said.
``It's misleading people into thinking that they're actually a safer cigarette when in fact they're not.''
Lappe noted that the moves against light and mild cigarettes were part of an international framework on tobacco control being negotiated in Geneva.
On May 15 the European Union passed legislation that will prevent descriptions of ``light'' and ``mild'' for tobacco from September 2003.
The first step in Canada is a request for companies to do it on their own.
``Subsequently, if they don't agree to do it voluntarily, then the option is to ban or regulate it,'' Lappe said.
Canada's leading cigarette companies are British American Tobacco's Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd.; Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc., a unit of Philip Morris International Inc. and Rothmans Inc.; and JTI-Macdonald Corp., owned by Japan Tobacco Inc. .