House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was safety.

Topics

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Call in the members. And the division bells having rung :

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The recorded division is deferred until 5:30 p.m. today.

Tobacco Products Control Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Scarborough East
Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters for Minister of Health

moved that Bill C-24, an act to amend the Tobacco Products Control Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tobacco Products Control Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak on second reading of Bill C-24 which will amend the Tobacco Products Control Act. Action on the proposed amendment is a key element of our strategy for reducing the consumption of tobacco products in Canada. Before I address the specifics of Bill C-24, I first want to take a few moments to touch on the historical and policy context of this legislation.

When the Tobacco Products Control Act became law in 1989 it set a number of important public health precedents. It phased out tobacco advertising. It restricted the promotion of tobacco products. It required health warnings and toxic constituents information on packages. Finally, the act required manufacturers to report information on tobacco constituents and sales to the Minister of Health.

In passing this legislation, Parliament acknowledged the hazards inherent in tobacco use. It acted to protect all Canadians but especially youth from inducements to the use of tobacco products. To this day Canada is recognized as a world leader for the action it took in 1989 to regulate tobacco marketing and promotion.

Since the implementation of the Tobacco Products Control Act, Canada has been viewed as a model in terms of tobacco control measures. Australia, New Zealand, France and Thailand are among the countries which have used aspects of the Canadian model, including advertising bans, prominent health messages on packaging and increased health promotion activities. In some cases these countries have gone further than Canada with various components of their policies and legislation. Their non-smoking policies are based not only on Canada's experience but also on the recommendations of international health organizations such as the World Health Organization.

As countries co-operate on tobacco control, these international agencies have an increasing wealth of data and models to draw upon. The World Health Organization for instance recently released a report indicating that three million people a year now die prematurely from tobacco related causes. If the current trend continues, the body count would reach some 10 million deaths per year within one generation.

Last September the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Parliament had the power to control advertising and promotion of tobacco products under the criminal law power of the Constitution. The court also found unanimously that the purpose of the act, specifically to reduce tobacco consumption, was a valid and important health objective, one sufficiently important to warrant the limiting of the freedom of expression.

However, the court was also of the view that the government had failed to demonstrate that some of the measures in the act, in particular the total ban on advertising, the restrictions on promotion and the inability to attribute health warnings to the government, were justified under the charter. As a consequence, the majority ruled that large portions of the act were without force and effect, including provisions requiring health warnings and toxic constituents information.

The government accepts the responsibility conferred on it by the Supreme Court of Canada decision. It will not allow the unrestrained marketing and promotion of a product that kills so many Canadians.

Tobacco Products Control Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

We will not hold it against you personally. I know there are some jobs a parliamentary secretary must do, however distasteful.

Tobacco Products Control Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

I welcome the commentary of the hon. member opposite. It is favourable to the introduction I am presenting. Rarely has there been such a clear and compelling case for government action, as the member acknowledges.

To put matters as simply as possible, smoking kills. The supreme court recognized this fact. The warning labels are entirely accurate, scientifically correct and vital to Canada's health strategy on smoking. They cannot, however, tell the entire story.

Tobacco is the only consumer product that has absolutely no known benefits, none whatsoever. When used as intended, it can cause irreparable damage and can kill those who use it. A couple of my colleagues opposite in the medical profession will attest to that as well. They will also attest to the fact that research tells us a smoker's life expectancy decreases by some seven to eight minutes for each cigarette smoked. That is a terrible price to pay.

Between one-third and one-half of Canadians who now smoke will die prematurely as a result of tobacco use. This means that over three million people will die an early death because of tobacco use. When the Tobacco Products Control Act was introduced in 1987 some 72 Canadians died each day of tobacco related causes. Today, as we debate some minor amendments to the act, the toll has risen appreciably. Today, tomorrow the next day and each day in this year on average 110 Canadians will die of tobacco related causes. Sadly, we have every reason to believe this toll will continue to increase for some time.

Tobacco addiction does not take its toll immediately or quickly. It often takes some 20 to 30 years for the consequences of smoking to manifest themselves. That is why deaths attributable to smoking continue to escalate, even though fewer people are smoking now than 10 or 20 years ago. From 1989 to 1991 Canadian deaths attributed to smoking increased by some 8 per cent to more than 41,400.

Even those who do not smoke can be affected. The United States centre for disease prevention and control published some alarming findings recently about second hand smoke in a journal of the American Medical Association. I point to the study because the study is noteworthy for not only its findings but for its sample size and its methodology.

It involved some 10,642 people over four years of age and older randomly selected at 81 different sites in 26 separate states. It was the first centre for disease prevention and control tobacco study to combine blood samples, physical examinations and questionnaires.

Using the blood tests of the 10,642 people, the centres for disease prevention and control were able to confirm almost universal exposure to tobacco smoke even among young people and people who never smoked and who do not work or live around people who smoke.

Their tests showed 87.9 per cent of non-smokers in the group had a blood chemistry that indicated exposure to cigarette smoke. Their blood tested positive for cotinine metabolic residue from the body's processing of inhaled nicotine. There is virtually no other source of that chemical than inhaled tobacco smoke.

We know from other scientific studies that second hand smoke can have 20 to 30 times the carcinogens found in smoke inhaled directly through the filter by the smoker. This study confirms those carcinogens find their way into the lungs and bloodstream of almost everybody, including non-smokers.

The centres for disease prevention and control estimated that in the United States second hand smoke caused 3,000 deaths annually among the non-smoking public and 150,000 to 300,000 cases of respiratory infections among children.

This is generally consistent with the data available in Canada. Here it is estimated that about 330 people each year die from the effects of second hand smoke. Almost half of all Canadian children under the age 15, some 2.8 million, are exposed to second hand smoke on a regular basis.

These data provide clear and compelling evidence that tobacco use is not a personal choice issue, as the tobacco industry would maintain. It is clearly and irreputably a public health issue.

The American study clearly shows no one is safe from the effects of tobacco smoke. A smoker's decision to use tobacco products has demonstrable and negative impacts on the health of those with whom the smoker lives and works.

This year about 50 billion cigarettes will be smoked in Canada with tragic consequences for public health. In addition to the human consequences I have already noted there are hidden costs. The health care costs of tobacco use are estimated at some $3 billion per annum. Another $8 billion is lost in absenteeism and productivity loss. In short, the personal and public costs of this addiction are tragic, pervasive and wholly preventable.

If this product were discovered today it would not be allowed for use in the marketplace. The government realizes, as did the Supreme Court of Canada, it would be impractical and unrealistic to ban a product that is part of the daily lives of almost 7 million Canadians.

At the same time, it would be irresponsible and callous to allow unfettered marketing and promotion of such a lethal product. The government has an obligation to take appropriate action. The government is prepared to act, it is determined to act. It is determined to take action, although the solutions to this national public health problem are complicated and difficult.

Tobacco use is an integral part of the daily life of almost 7 million Canadians, roughly one-third of the population aged 15 and over. Each day in films, magazines and on television tobacco products are portrayed as normal consumer products associated with contemporary lifestyles. This benign portrayal of tobacco products ignores that tobacco is inherently hazardous and addictive.

The length of time between initial experimentation and the onset of adverse health consequences is typically between 20 and 30 years and results in the loss of immediacy that has prompted dramatic public reaction to other less threatening public health issues. Its addictive qualities make it difficult to quit even when smokers know the toll is exacting on their health. Many smokers would like to quit but are unable to.

Government efforts to reduce tobacco use in Canada involve powerful and competing interests in a highly complex social, legal and economic context. The debates on the various pieces of legislation regulating tobacco have elicited strong reaction from such diverse interest groups as tobacco farmers, manufacturers, retailers, printers, artists, cultural groups, health groups and average Canadians whose health or families have been affected by tobacco use.

Because of tobacco's unique hazards, the enormous profits generated from selling it and the many competing interests involved, reducing tobacco consumption and its resulting adverse health effects is a challenging task indeed. It involves shared responsibilities among the various stakeholders and partners: the different levels of government; employers promoting smoke free environments among their employees; schools through the education of their students on the hazards of tobacco use; parents by encouraging their children not to start smoking; and of course the smokers themselves.

Tobacco Products Control Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

You will have the floor right after question period. As it is about 2 p.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Ludwig Strah
Statements By Members

June 4th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ludwig Strah, a resident in my riding of Simcoe North, for his work as a volunteer with Canadian Executive Services Organization.

CESO is a non-profit, volunteer based organization which transfers Canadian expertise to businesses, communities and organizations in Canada and abroad.

As a volunteer with CESO International Services, Mr. Strah has put forth great efforts in Romania, helping a company which manufactures water treatment equipment, and in Ghana working with mining equipment.

Speaking on behalf of all Canadians, I commend Mr. Strah on is selfless efforts, helping the citizens of Romania and Ghana in rebuilding their countries.

Canadian Armed Forces
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian forces have been under intense pressure of late with problems of scandal, senior leadership, aging equipment and the demands of frequent overseas rotations.

Despite these adversities, the individual men and women of the Canadian forces and their units stand out amongst others. Their performance is exemplary.

At a recent multinational military skills competition in Valika Kladusa, Bosnia a team of about 60 Canadian soldiers in competition with their British and Czech compatriots emerged as overall winners.

The six event competition was intended to sharpen performance and military skills while building team spirit and confidence. The competition included a 18 kilometre timed march, an obstacle course, a relay and a tug of war.

The training, commitment, team work, physical fitness and pride of our soldiers made the difference. They deserve our recognition, our praise and, most of all, our full support.