Do cigarette ads cause smoking?
Not too long ago, Canadians could smoke virtually anywhere they pleased: at work, in theatres, restaurants and even hospitals. Smoking rates peaked in the early 1960s, when nearly half of all adults puffed away. But as evidence of the health hazards of cigarettes piled up, high taxes, graphic warnings and restrictions on smoking have helped make smoking unacceptable. CBC Archives traces the decline of smoking in Canada.
The program shows a montage of cigarette ads and anti-smoking warnings from British TV. Short of an outright ban, former ad man Emerson Foote says he'd be satisfied if TV or radio advertisements carried a stern warning. But host John Drainie wonders if a ban is realistic. Cigarettes mean big money for both broadcasters and the government. Tobacco companies spend $2 million annually on TV ads, and tobacco taxes generate $400 million in government revenues.
. Bill C-75, proposed in 1963, would have placed cigarettes under the control of the Canadian Food and Drug Act, restricted advertising, limited nicotine and tar levels and demanded a warning label on the packages.
. MPs from Ontario's tobacco belt virulently opposed the bill. One said it was "the first step toward doing away with everything for which democracy stands."
. In 1964, the Canadian tobacco companies united to produce a voluntary code for advertising by their industry. They pledged that cigarette advertising would:
- Be directed at adults.
- Use models over age 25.
- Restrict health claims.
- Not use athletes or celebrities.
- Not advertise on billboards near schools.
. In May 1969 the CBC announced that it would no longer carry cigarette advertising on radio or TV once existing contracts ran out. Some private stations adopted similar rules.
. The CBC's move came in the midst of a year-long federal committee analysis of tobacco issues in Canada. One of its main tasks was to consider warning labels and whether the government should ban or restrict cigarette advertising.
. The tobacco industry was strongly opposed to any such actions, suggesting warning labels might compel children to smoke just to be rebellious.
. The industry also condemned some of the committee's overall assumptions. "It is actually a disservice to those millions who enjoy smoking to be constantly assaulted with some of the extreme and unsubstantiated propaganda that is spread about the so-called evils of smoking," testified a spokesman for the industry.
. In December 1969, the committee issued its report. Among its recommendations were:
- A phased-in ban on advertising;
- Health warnings on packages. vending machines, and advertising.
- Maximum allowable levels of tar and nicotine.
- Nicotine and tar levels spelled out on packages and in ads.
- More public education and surveys.
. Until a voluntary ban in 1970, tobacco companies often promoted cigarettes with incentives in the packages. Smokers could win money or collect coupons toward a prize.
. In 1971, in order to pre-empt a directive from Parliament, the tobacco industry announced it would no longer advertise its products on radio or TV.
. Cigarette packages would also carry a warning: "The Department of National Health and Welfare advises that danger to health increases with amount smoked."
Program: This Hour has Seven Days
Broadcast Date: March 21, 1965
Guest(s): Emerson Foote, William Kerr
Host: John Drainie
Interviewer: Warren Davis, Warner Troyer
Credits: Cigarette ads: Craven, Old Gold, Belvedere. Anti-smoking ads: Government of the United Kingdom.
Last updated: November 26, 2012
Page consulted on April 26, 2013
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