Canadian curbs on tobacco advertising face a legal challenge from the nation’s three largest tobacco firms – Imperial Tobacco (part of British American Tobacco), JTI Macdonald (part of Japan Tobacco) and Rothmans.

The trio have asked a court in Quebec to remove a federal ban on ads and event sponsorship on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Introduced in 1997, the Tobacco Act prevents advertising that links tobacco with certain lifestyles or that employs emotional appeals. Breaking this law could entail fines of up to C$30,000 ($18,000) and jail sentences.

They also want to end their obligation to place colour photos of body parts suffering from smoking-related illnesses on packaging. This requirement, introduced by the government little over a year ago [WAMN: 02-Jan-01], certainly seems effective – 44% of smokers interviewed by the Canadian Cancer Society said the pictures made them more determined to quit.

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