From Tobacco Info No. 5 - April 2011
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Supreme Court hears appeals
On Thursday February 24, the Supreme Court of Canada heard appeals as to whether the federal government should remain as a third party defendant in two major tobacco cases: the BC Medicare cost recovery case, and the Knight vs. Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. ‘lights’ class action from BC.
In these cases, the tobacco industry named the federal government as a third party defendant, arguing that if the tobacco companies lose, then the federal government should have to reimburse the tobacco companies for any damages awarded. The federal government brought a motion to be removed as a third party defendant. The BC Supreme Court granted the federal government’s motion on July 3, 2007, in the Knight case, and on April 10, 2008, in the BC Medicare cost recovery case. On appeal, on December 8, 2009, the BC Court of Appeal, by a narrow 3:2 margin, agreed with the tobacco companies. The federal government sought and, on May 20, 2010, obtained from the Supreme Court of Canada permission to appeal.
Many tobacco companies are participating in the hearing including Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, JTI-Macdonald and British American Tobacco. Provincial governments from BC, Ontario and New Brunswick are also participating in the case.
No date has been set for judgment.
Health care cost recovery lawsuits
Newfoundland and Labrador announced in February the filing of a lawsuit by the province against tobacco firms in a bid to recover the cost of smoke-related ailments.
The move followed the proclamation on the same day of Newfoundland’s Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Act, which permits the province to sue tobacco firms directly. The act was passed 10 years ago, but proclaimed only this year.
Medicare cost recovery legislation has now been adopted by all 10 provinces, as well as Nunavut, when its Tobacco Damages and Health Care Cost Recovery Act was given royal assent on November 1, 2010. BC, Ontario and New Brunswick have filed lawsuits, while Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have announced their intentions to do so.
15th World Conference
The World Conference on Tobacco or Health is an international conference on tobacco control held once every three years and attracts thousands of academics, practitioners, non-government organisations and public officials from more than 100 countries. The 15th edition will be held in Singapore from March 21 to 24, 2012, and aims to establish, engage and support local, regional and international partnerships through the conference programme activities and networking sessions.
The theme Towards a Tobacco-free World: Planning Globally, Acting locally is aimed at working towards a tobacco-free world hampered by the globalization of tobacco marketing, trade, research and industry influence revolving around the idea that for global plans to be effective, positive and effective action needs to be adapted to the local regional needs of different communities around the world.
No smoking in Chinese movies
China is ordering makers of films and TV shows to limit the amount of smoking depicted on-screen, the latest effort to curb rampant tobacco use in the country with the largest number of smokers in the world.
The order from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, viewed on its website, tells producers to minimize plot lines and scenes involving tobacco and show smoking only when necessary for artistic purposes or character development. Minors under the age of 18 cannot be shown smoking or buying cigarettes, and characters may not smoke in public buildings or other places where smoking is banned.
Where possible, actors and directors are encouraged to leave smoking out of their productions, the circular said, adding images of smoking in movies and television shows were out of sync with government efforts to control tobacco use.
Tobacco use is linked to the deaths of at least one million people every year in China, where 300 million people, or nearly 30% of adults, smoke.
No smoking in Central Park
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed into law, on February 22, a ban on smoking in city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks.
The ban goes into effect 90 days after the signing. That means that by this summer, those who break the law could face fines of $50 per violation, although the city has said it plans to rely on signs and social pressure instead of active enforcement.
The ban covers all public beaches, 1,700 parks including Central Park, as well as pedestrian plazas like those in Times Square.
World No Tobacco Day 2011
The World Health Organization (WHO) selected the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) as the theme for the next World No Tobacco Day set for May 31, 2011.
The WHO FCTC is the world’s foremost tobacco control instrument. The first treaty ever negotiated under the auspices of WHO, it represents a signal achievement in the advancement of public health. In force only since 2005, it is already one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of the United Nations, with more than 172 Parties as of March 2011. An evidence-based treaty, it reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and provides new legal dimensions for cooperation in tobacco control.
World No Tobacco Day 2011 will be designed to highlight the treaty’s overall importance, to stress Parties’ obligations under the treaty and to promote the essential role of the Conference of the Parties and WHO in supporting the countries’ efforts to meet those obligations. The Conference of the Parties is the treaty’s central organ and governing body.