Unfiltered: Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health

By Eric A. Feldman; Ronald Bayer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
3
Rights and Public Health in the Balance:
Tobacco Control in Canada

Christopher P. Manfredi and Antonia Maioni

In 1908 the Canadian federal parliament passed the Tobacco Restraint Act, which made it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under sixteen years of age. It would take almost sixty years before tobacco regulation would again appear on the federal policy agenda, and yet another twenty years before the federal parliament would take legislative action against smoking and the tobacco industry. Between 1988 and 1997, the federal parliament enacted four major pieces of anti-tobacco legislation: the Non-Smokers’ Health Act (entered in force, 1989), the Tobacco Products Control Act (1989), the Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act (1993), and the Tobacco Act (1997). As Robert Kagan and David Vogel note, because of the powerful combination of material interests and ideas about the appropriate scope of government activity in a liberal state, the establishment of any tobacco regulation in such a state is a remarkable achievement.1 Despite these obstacles, however—which included nine years of a conservative political administration dedicated to deregulation and free trade with the United States—Canada possessed by the end of 2000 a comprehensive, internationally recognized anti-tobacco strategy that combined taxation, legislation, and educational programs.2

The story behind the establishment of Canada’s anti-tobacco strategy is one of political will, bureaucratic support and expertise, and effective advocacy outside government.3 It took place against a background that included growing scientific evidence about the negative health effects of smoking; recognition of high rates of cigarette consumption by Canadians; and counterattacks by the tobacco industry. On the domestic front, in 1954 the

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