An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

John McKay  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Bill C-260Statements By Members

April 21st, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my happy task to thank a number of colleagues and supporters for their assistance on Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes). As we know, to take a bill from first reading through to royal assent requires a lot of hard work, patience and cooperation.

I would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister, who was then the Minister of Health, and her parliamentary secretary, the member for Madawaska—Restigouche. As well, when the current Minister of Health took over the portfolio, he immediately saw the health and safety benefits of the bill.

I also want to thank the critic for the Alliance Party, the member for Yellowhead, the critic from the Bloc Québécois, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, the critic for the NDP, the member for Churchill, and the critic from the Progressive Conservatives, the member for New Brunswick Southwest.

The chair of the health committee, the member for Oakville, was very helpful in freeing up time for the committee. In the Senate, the ultimate sponsor was Senator Morin, who was very helpful, as were Senator Smith and Senator Kenny. I am running out of time, Mr. Speaker, and I will have to--

HealthOral Question Period

April 1st, 2004 / 2:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Scarborough East's Bill C-260 on fire safe cigarettes has passed. Could the Minister of Health tell us, now that the bill has passed third reading in the Senate, how is the government going to move forward to ensure that fewer lives are lost, fewer injuries are suffered and less property damage ensues as a result of careless smoking?

Employment Insurance ProgramThe Royal Assent

March 31st, 2004 / 4:05 p.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that, when the House went up to the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-26, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2004—Chapter 5.

Bill C-212, an act respecting user fees—Chapter 6.

Bill C-4, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and other acts in consequence—Chapter 7.

Bill C-27, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005—Chapter 8.

Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes)—Chapter 9.

Message from the SenateOral Question Period

March 31st, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
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The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that messages have been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills: Bill C-27 and Bill C-260 without amendment.

Business of the House

February 2nd, 2004 / 4:50 p.m.
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The Speaker

May I remind hon. members that a time limit is placed on the consideration of private members’ bills. Indeed, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, committees will be required to report on these reinstated private members’ public bills within 60 sitting days of this statement.

At prorogation, five private members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House: Bill C-212, an act respecting user fees; Bill C-249, an act to amend the Competition Act; Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda); Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes); and Bill C-300, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts.

(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

October 31st, 2003 / 1:30 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill C-260, the private member's bill to amend the Hazardous Products Act. I thank the member for Scarborough East for bringing such an important matter before the House of Commons in the form of this bill.

Let me state at the outset that this bill deals with property damage caused by careless smoking, but most importantly, it deals with saving lives. In 1992, careless smoking in Canada accounted for 68 fatalities, 385 injuries, $37 million in damages and 3,199 fires. On average Canadians consume approximately 56 billion cigarettes annually and the damage caused by them is substantial.

The solution to this may be found in what are known as flammability standards. When I read over this piece of legislation, the first thought that came to mind was that the bill is not trying to get Canadians to stop smoking, because smoking is an addiction that requires help. Rather, what this bill is saying and what it is trying to do is make it safer for people to smoke and safer for the people around them.

Essentially what this bill would do is compel the Minister of Health to report to Parliament and explain why the Hazardous Products Act should or should not be amended to include cigarettes under the category of flammability standards. Clearly this is an issue that affects all of us in the entire country, regardless of age or region. Further, members would no doubt agree that saving lives of smokers and non-smokers alike is of significant public interest to all of us here in the chamber.

One lit cigarette left unattended can have dire consequences and devastating impacts. Dangerous smoking may seem to be a non-issue; however, it is a very important one, which Canadians from coast to coast must be encouraged to take seriously. Over the years, cigarette fires have caused a large number of fatalities. The terrible tragedy is that most of these deaths could have been prevented if smokers had just taken a few simple precautions.

One thing that Canadians must be aware of is that it can happen to anyone, young or old, and at any time. If one is smoking late at night or after a drink, it is only natural that one's reactions tend to be slower. As such, this is a time when extra care must be taken while smoking.

A smouldering cigarette is the biggest cause of fatal fires, causing one-third of all deaths from fires in the home. These fires are more likely to start during the night. Some of the most common places for them to start are sofas, beds and carpets. A cigarette burns at up to 780 degrees centigrade, so I would remind all Canadians to ensure that when they put out their cigarettes they really are out.

There is good news in all of this, because cigarette-related fires can be prevented by taking a few simple precautions. Some of these include: avoid smoking in bed; avoid leaving lit cigarettes unattended; always use a proper ashtray and make sure it cannot be knocked over; take special care when one is tired or drinking; keep matches and lighters away from children; and fit and maintain a proper smoke alarm.

Although these personal safety precautions can be taken, more can and must be done. It is for this reason that I applaud my colleague for bringing forward this private member's bill. Cigarettes should be included in the Hazardous Products Act and flammability standards should be applied to them.

It is worth noting that currently in the United States the Massachusetts legislature has before it a unique opportunity to move Massachusetts out front in its efforts to save lives, lives lost to cigarettes.

Smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires in the United States. Recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that there were 900 fire-related deaths, 2,500 injuries, and $410 million in property damage caused by smoking materials in one year in the United States.

In Massachusetts in 1990, there were 178 deaths, 763 injuries related to burns and $75 million in property damage caused by such fires. During the same period, these fires caused 677 firefighter injuries in Massachusetts.

The legislature has before it the Moakley bill, a state version of the federal legislation first introduced in Congress by Joe Moakley in 1979 which would require that all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts have strict fire safety standards. When left burning unattended they would extinguish themselves or burn at temperatures that would not ignite furniture or mattresses, thereby lessening the chance of fires.

This is a very good idea and a very worthwhile piece of legislation. Lessons can be learned from the Massachusetts approach. Also, New York State has recently passed a similar bill while unanimously stating that all cigarettes sold in the state had to meet flammability standards by July 2003.

It remains my solemn opinion that this is certainly the right thing to do.

We learn from statistics in Great Britain that smoking can be more dangerous than we think. Every three days someone dies because of a cigarette fire. The highest injury rate in smoking material fires is among young people between the ages of 25 to 34. Men are more likely to be killed or injured in cigarette fires. Six out of ten of those killed are men and over half of those injured are men. Six out of ten smokers say cigarettes are one of the top causes of house fires, but every year fewer people are taking steps to prevent these fires.

Only four out of ten smokers say they check their ashtrays before going to bed each night. Nearly half of all households have a smoker living in them. These households are nearly one and one-half times more likely to have a fire than non-smoking households.

Despite the dangers of falling asleep and setting bedding on fire, 70% of smokers confess to lighting up in bed. People 18 to 34 years old are even more likely to smoke in bed.

I think that my remarks today reflect the importance of implementing cigarette safety standards in Canada. The choices are simple: life or death.

We have a golden opportunity to support this private member's bill in the hope that the Minister of Health and the entire government will take notice of the widespread support for the bill and as a result will work hard toward implementing appropriate standards for cigarettes in the country.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

October 31st, 2003 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Madam Speaker, I am addressing the House today to reaffirm Health Canada's position concerning Bill C-260 as well as to provide the House with a status update concerning the development of regulations to mandate certain reduced ignition propensity cigarettes. I would also like to provide the House with a summary of the supporting activities presently being conducted by Health Canada.

First, I want to thank and congratulate the hon. member for Scarborough East for bringing this issue forward. He has certainly put a lot of time and energy into raising the whole issue of fires caused by unattended cigarettes. For this effort, we certainly thank him.

Let me begin by saying that one of Health Canada's mandates has always been to reduce health hazards where tobacco products are concerned. Over 14,000 fires were started by unattended cigarettes between 1995 and 1999. The death toll for these fires was over 350. Another 1,600 people were injured. These numbers account for the majority of deaths and injuries caused by household fires. The resulting damage to property is estimated at over $200 million.

Some of the measures Health Canada has taken include a prevention by public education strategy. The department has also prompted the regulation of ignition sources, such as lighters and matches, and has restricted or banned flammable consumer products. These include materials used in mattresses, bedding and textiles. The department has also worked closely with the Canadian Council of Furniture Manufacturers to reduce flammability of upholstered furniture.

The final step is to mandate regulations that would force manufacturers to produce cigarettes that are less likely to cause fires. This kind of product is known as reduced ignition propensity cigarettes.

Over the course of the last year and further to recent consultations with other interested parties, Health Canada has made significant progress toward implementing ignition propensity regulations. It has found that there are some concerns which merit further attention. However, none of these are enough to preclude the development of regulations. It is expected that regulations will be proposed in the very near future.

The first formal step taken in the regulatory process was in December of last year. Health Canada released a public consultation paper seeking input on the issue of reduced fire risks from cigarettes. This document gave all interested parties an opportunity to express their concerns and also their priorities.

The feedback Health Canada received was mixed. Firefighters and non-governmental organizations were very supportive of the proposal. Although its main complaint was that government was initially too slow to take action, the comments the department received from the tobacco industry also indicated support for the proposals and the objectives.

However, the industry in this public consultation process raised concerns over issues ranging from methodology for testing to unsafe behavioural tendencies in which consumers might engage.

I would like to take a moment to address some of these concerns and offer some insight into the steps and activities that Health Canada has undertaken to address some of these issues.

The current test method has been put into question. After an extensive dialogue with experts, Health Canada maintains that the method being used by the American Society for the Testing of Materials is based on very sound scientific theory and is the best method for measuring the ignition propensity of cigarettes.

Also concerns over toxicity levels have been raised. Upon further investigation, Health Canada has concluded that the available eligible data indicates that there is no significant variation in the toxicity of reduced ignition propensity cigarettes. Due to the importance of this issue, Health Canada is considering mandatory toxicological testing throughout the implementation of the regulations to have access to sound data.

Some concern has also been expressed regarding consumer behaviour. The apprehension which was raised is that reduced ignition propensity cigarettes could mislead the consumer into believing that cigarettes no longer pose a fire hazard, leading, of course, to consumer carelessness. To date no scientific data has been provided to support this claim, and based on what I think of the assertion it would be highly unlikely that there would be any kind of empirical evidence to support this assertion.

Health Canada plans to deal with the issue by establishing fire safety and behavioural baselines. The references are twofold. The department is developing a questionnaire to measure the current behaviour of smokers and is also at the same time using data from the Ontario fire marshal's office to establish conclusive statistics regarding the nature of cigarette fires in Ontario. This will give Health Canada a basis of comparison once regulations have been implemented and will ultimately indicate possible behavioural changes in smokers.

Over the course of the last year, as has already been mentioned here this afternoon, ignition propensity testing has been performed on 62 brands of cigarettes sold in the Canadian marketplace. Only one brand has shown a significant reduction in ignition propensity.

A cost benefit assessment is also well underway. The department recently sent a questionnaire to affected stakeholders to ask for their input into cost assessment. This assessment is expected to be completed in about three or four weeks.

Let us now turn to Bill C-260. The intention of Bill C-260 is also to prevent the loss of life due to fires caused by smoking. The debate surrounding the bill has been a little enigmatic, in that we all agree something must be done, but the question we are faced with is how it should be done. That is the issue.

The position of Health Canada from the very beginning has been that the regulation of reduced ignition propensity cigarettes should fall under the Tobacco Act. There are many reasons for this line of thinking.

Among them is the fact that Health Canada has developed and implemented the federal tobacco control strategy. That would be the very best way to deal with this issue: to get people to substantially reduce smoking or to stop all together. This strategy allows Canadians to deal with tobacco-related issues by adopting a comprehensive, integrated and sustained approach. This way, the regulation of cigarettes falls under one single piece of legislation. There are several advantages to this.

Among these advantages is that of a comprehensive regulatory framework. In short, the legislative apparatus to achieve effective tobacco control strategies is, as everyone in the House is aware, already in place. This makes acting expediently considerably easier.

There is one final point I would like to make. The Hazardous Products Act sets out to deal with harmful products in two very specific ways: by regulating these products to make them safe or by simply banning them from the market all together.

One can begin to see the difficulty in incorporating cigarettes into this legislation. Regulating cigarettes to make them safe is neither feasible nor possible and makes very little common sense. Cigarettes by their very nature are a dangerous product, whether that danger is from inhaling the smoke they produce or from sustaining injuries in the fires they start. Altering them for ignition propensity is one thing. However, altering them to render the smoke safe is entirely another goal, a goal no one would know how to achieve. We may be setting a precedent that would allow other products that do not fit the model to be included in this act.

Likewise, at this point in time in the evolution of society, banning cigarettes would be difficult. It would be like banning paint additives or banning glue. Tobacco is an addictive substance. By banning it, we would be instantly turning 20% of our population into criminals.

Health Canada has demonstrated that the process to regulate ignition propensity is well underway and the mechanisms to achieve this are already in place. Cigarettes are a unique product with their own unique act. It is clear that cigarettes do not fit into the model that the Hazardous Products Act outlines. Health Canada will continue to work on measures dealing with ignition propensity that fall under the Tobacco Act.

On a global scale, Health Canada is a world leader in tobacco control. It has demonstrated this through its continued efforts and through a strong commitment to improve the well-being of Canadian citizens.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

October 31st, 2003 / 1:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great joy that I rise to speak today on Bill C-260 introduced by my Liberal colleague from Scarborough East.

I will be relatively brief this afternoon, because my Bloc colleague has, as you know, already expressed his views on this private members bill, which we support.

This bill to amend the Hazardous Products Act is on its third trip through the House. On October 8, 2003, the Standing Committee on Health reported on this bill, with proposed amendments.

The text amends the Hazardous Products Act by adding to the list of prohibited products cigarettes that do not meet the flammability standard to be set out in the regulations.

The purpose of this bill is to force the tobacco companies to manufacture fire-safe cigarettes. These cigarettes are subjected to flammability testing. If they fall onto a piece of furniture, they are less likely to start a fire.

Here are some important facts. First, according to Denis Choinière, director of the Tobacco Control Program run by Health Canada's Office of Prevention, Cessation and Education, approximately 3,000 fires are caused each year by cigarettes, resulting in 70 deaths and 300 injuries.

Furthermore, the State of New York recently adopted similar legislation, making it impossible to manufacture, sell or distribute cigarettes within its jurisdiction that do not meet not basic fire safety standards.

Furthermore, the tobacco companies have long known how to make fire-safe cigarettes, by using less porous paper and less dense tobacco.

Since then, only one brand of cigarettes out of 62 tested has passed. It was an American cigarette sold in Canada. Therefore, tobacco companies know how to meet the standard to reduce the potential fire hazard posed by cigarettes.

Once again, I want to reiterate our support for Bill C-260, since my colleague from the Bloc took part in this debate on November 25, 2002. He said:

Marketing fire-safe cigarettes, which could protect the lives of the citizens we represent, the people of Quebec, should have happened years ago. But once again, this bill has not been passed.

This bill should have received majority support, if not unanimous support, in the House of Commons long ago. Firefighters and non-governmental organizations agreed with my hon. colleague, a few months ago, as we can see from the speaking notes of Denis Choinière, the Director of the Office of Regulations and Compliance.

He said that, while firefighters and non-governmental organizations support the proposal, the main complaint is that the government did not act earlier.

I strongly believe that, among firefighters or NGOs, the vast majority want this kind of measure to be adopted by Parliament because it has already been agreed that the standard in question can be applied by companies and manufacturers.

So, in closing, to the extent that this standard can be applied, my hope is that this bill will receive the support of as many elected representatives in this House as possible. I therefore urge all members in this House to vote for Bill C-260.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

October 31st, 2003 / 1:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to add a few words of wisdom to this bill.

There are a number of substances in our society which increase hazards significantly to people.

We know of the hazards of alcohol. The number of people who die or are killed in car accidents because of alcohol every year is astounding. As a matter of fact, it is probably a low estimate to say that 100 people a day die because of alcohol usage. If we had 100 people a day dying in an aircraft, we would soon ground the aircraft.

We have probably another 100 people a day who die from smoking, that is directly. They contract diseases that are related to smoking, such as heart and lung disease, and they die from it, again at the rate of about 100 per day.

Bill C-260 addresses yet another hazard that arises from the use of tobacco, and that is the fire hazard. It is a known fact that many house fires and other accidents in vehicles are caused by a smouldering cigarette.

Although I do not know the exact number, I have an estimate from several years ago. It indicates that about 100 deaths per year are the result of fires which are caused by careless smoking, as it is called. Careless smoking simply means people either go to sleep or they do not pay attention to where they have put their smouldering cigarette. The cigarette lights the chesterfield on fire. The chesterfield lights the house on fire, and lo and behold people are injured or killed.

Bill C-260, proposed by the member for Scarborough East, states that there should be standards on the flammability of cigarettes. If a cigarette is left unattended, instead of smouldering away, it goes out. In other words, a person has to keep sucking on the thing to keep the fire going. If a person fails to do that, then the fire goes out.

That is a very marginal step. It is an important issue. Surely this would result in fewer fires. I do not think it would eliminate them all, but it would reduce the number of fires from unattended cigarettes and thereby hopefully reduce property damage and reduce loss of life and injury to people.

The correct thing for members of the House to do would be to support the bill. I will be voting in favour of it, even though, as I say, it is a very timid step in reducing the damage done by this one harmful substance, which we use in great quantities in Canada.

It is also good to notice that a lot of people now are quitting smoking. I want to commend one of my constituency assistants, Jason, and he will be pleased to hear me say this, who has quit smoking. I say, “good on you, Jason. I hope you keep it up”. He is much richer now that he does not have to spend that money.

Many people are quitting. As a federal government, instead of just reducing the fire hazard from cigarettes, it ought to do more and more to reduce the usage of cigarettes in total.

I would like to say that I am very pleased that in our present society it has now become politically unacceptable or politically incorrect to smoke in meetings. I am an older guy, and for many years I went through the early youth of my career before all the anti-smoking stuff was in vogue. For many years I shared an office with a smoker. I was in many meetings with smokers. I had a lot of headaches because of that. I was adversely affected by the smoke.

Now we have whole buildings that are smoke free. I really appreciate it, especially because there is some conjecture that my present lung ailment, from which I am suffering, could be a result of that second hand smoke which I was forced to inhale for all those years.

In conclusion, I recommend to all my colleagues in the House that the bill is worthy of support, and I certainly will be doing that.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 8th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health.

Pursuant to its order of reference dated Thursday, November 28, 2002, your committee has considered Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act with regard to fire safe cigarettes, and agreed on Tuesday, October 7, 2003, to report it to you with amendments.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2002 / 5:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter this debate tonight.

I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Scarborough East for the work he has done to introduce Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act, and for reintroducing his bill when earlier efforts met the fate of other private members' bills, the political dead end.

Bill C-260 asks the Minister of Health to provide Parliament with reasons why the Hazardous Products Act should not be amended to include cigarettes in the flammability standards. Indeed, there are a lot of similar whys we might wish to ask the minister, such as why the Health Protection Branch has a lot of simple amino acids or minerals that promote health on a restricted list, that is, not to be sold by health food outlets, something simple like chromium picolinate, a simple mineral compound. Chromium is necessary to produce a glucose tolerance factor. Anyone with a blood sugar problem, high or low, should be taking a chromium supplement.

My hon. colleague, the member for Yellowhead, speaking on the bill during the first hour of debate rightly mentioned that the bill does not create a new bureaucracy, nor does it raise taxes for Canadians. We certainly appreciate that on this side of the House. The bill is about the safety of Canadians and making a dangerous product safer. Like my colleagues I hope that the members of the House will do the right thing and support the bill, and not relegate it to the political dustbin like so many other bills that have been brought forward by individual members.

We have heard a lot of distressing statistics related to fires caused by cigarettes. Indeed, in this hour of debate these statistics have been brought forward. These fires bring about deaths, injuries and significant material losses, losses of homes, furniture, forests and wildlife. Cigarette fires are responsible for one out of every five fire fatalities. Cigarette fires kill 100 Canadians every year with another 300 injured. The material damage caused by cigarette fires in 1999 was $36.5 million.

These are tragic numbers that could be reduced by requiring tobacco companies to make fire safe cigarettes. Why should cigarette paper include chemical additives that keep them burning without active participation, namely puffer power or pucker power? That is a valid question indeed.

In 1997 the Minister of Health said safe tobacco regulations were a priority. The reality is that neither the minister then nor the minister now has done anything to fulfill that commitment. Perhaps the previous minister was preoccupied with the issue of medical marijuana. He is well known for establishing a rock garden and that seemed to occupy a fair bit of his attention.

I would like to digress to this issue because it seems strange to me that the government could neglect a safety issue that Bill C-260 brings up, and yet proceed with so-called medical marijuana or be seen to be promoting marijuana smoking when there are some real safety concerns associated with marijuana smoking.

Researchers at the British Lung Foundation determined that smoking three marijuana cigarettes caused the same damage to the lining of the airways as 20 tobacco cigarettes and that tar from marijuana contained 50% more carcinogens than tobacco. I was at the CMA conference a year ago August in Quebec City. It happened to be the time when the then health minister was introducing strong measures to wrestle the tobacco companies to the ground over the use of the words light and mild. At the same time the irony was not lost on the medical doctors present who, during the question period, asked the then minister whether they were to assume the responsibility for the consequences of smoking marijuana, consequences that are not fully understood today or appreciated, particularly for long term use.

Three recent studies published in the British Medical Journal linked marijuana use with mental illness. Issues such as the lack of mental acuity raises important questions, such as operating heavy equipment or driving a car. What level is an impaired level for someone using marijuana? A joint today may have 10 to 35 times the TCP levels compared to the same product that some in the room may have experimented with in 1970.

One study found that smoking marijuana every day increased the risk of depression by five times and that smoking marijuana once a week doubled the risk.

A second study of 50,000 Swedish conscripts over 27 years found that marijuana increased the risk of schizophrenia by 30%.

A third study found that the earlier teenagers started smoking marijuana, the greater the risk of schizophrenia.

Tragically, this past week a teenager in British Columbia committed suicide after being found with marijuana in his possession and being grounded by his coach. We of course have sympathy for his parents and family in this tragic case but we must register some incredulity when the Senate committee advocated legalizing marijuana, not decriminalizing it but actually legalizing it, which would include people as young as 16 years of age. I understand that in most jurisdictions even to buy cigarettes people need to be 18 or 19 years old. We might wonder what some of the senators have been smoking.

While it seems that the government is rather unconcerned with safety issues around marijuana, it could and should show that it is concerned with the issue of cigarette safety, which of course is the subject of the debate tonight.

By requiring tobacco companies to make fire safe cigarettes, the government could help to prevent fatalities, injuries and material damage caused by cigarette fires. It could require tobacco companies to make cigarettes with lower paper porosity, smaller circumference, shorter filters, reducing or eliminating paper burn additives, and lower tobacco density. This would be a simple regulation to implement under the Hazardous Products Act, by including cigarettes in its flammability standards.

If the government does not want to take this simple step, then Bill C-260 should be passed to compel the Minister of Health to explain to Parliament why.

It is indeed a valid suggestion and we certainly support the intent of the bill. We congratulate the hon. member for Scarborough East for bringing the bill forward.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2002 / 5:35 p.m.
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Kitchener Centre Ontario

Liberal

Karen Redman LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to respond, on behalf of the Minister of Health, to the proposals contained in Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act, which was tabled as a private member's bill by the hon. member for Scarborough East.

Let me start by thanking the hon. member for his hard work and thoughtful efforts in the preparation of the legislation. I am encouraged to see that members of the House are taking action to help protect the health of Canadians.

The purpose of the bill is to help reduce the number of fires ignited by carelessly handled or discarded cigarettes, thus reducing death and injury caused by these fires.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs has reported that from 1995 to 1999 there were at least 14,030 fires where smokers' materials were the source of ignition. These fires caused 356 fatalities, injured 1,615 people and resulted in over $223 million worth of property damage. We need to address this issue, especially when one considers that innocent bystanders, such as firefighters and children, are very often the victims of these fires.

In fact. our government has had public health strategies in place for years to protect and educate citizens about the dangers associated with fires, including those that are ignited by cigarettes.

For example, the enforcement of the hazardous products (mattresses) regulation by Health Canada ensures that mattresses that are available in Canada meet certain flammability standards, particularly with regard to ignition by cigarettes.

Similarly, through a voluntary collaboration between Health Canada and the upholstered furniture industry, we strive to ensure upholstered furniture is less prone to cigarette ignition.

These measures, coupled with public education campaigns, have decreased the number of deaths associated with cigarette ignited fires in mattresses and in furniture.

However there is merit in finding new ways to prevent such harm to Canadians and their property. Regulating the ignition propensity of cigarettes is a natural next step forward in this campaign to protect the Canadian public against fire.

Our American colleagues are currently pursuing similar action. Proposed legislation on fire safe cigarettes is currently before the United States congress. If adopted, the bill will require that all cigarettes sold in the United States meet a prescribed fire safety standard. In fact, the State of New York has already passed a bill requiring fire safety standards to be established for cigarettes, and by July 1, 2003 all cigarettes sold in New York State will have to meet these standards.

Bill C-260 aims to reduce the number of fire related deaths in Canada, over 20% of which are the result of unattended or carelessly discarded lit cigarettes. As I have indicated, we agree that this matter is worthy of investigation.

However I do have some concern in the way the bill proposes to do this. In particular, the intent of the Hazardous Products Act is to prohibit the sale and importation of hazardous or potentially hazardous products, or to make such products reasonably safe for their intended use by regulating their sale, advertising, importation and directions for use or manufacture.

There is no known way to make cigarettes safe for their intended use. In other words, the only safe cigarette is an unlit cigarette.

Setting a performance standard under the Hazardous Products Act for safe cigarette flammability criteria would contradict the intent of this act and could also detract from the departmental message that tobacco is harmful to health.

Tobacco products are far beyond being a public hazard. Smoking is an addiction that kills. Each year tobacco takes its toll on individuals and on Canada's health care system by contributing to more than 45,000 premature deaths. This is five times more than the number of premature deaths caused by murder, alcohol, car accidents and suicides combined. Of these deaths, more than 1,000 were non-smokers who died of the effects of secondhand smoke. That is why our government has taken decisive action in the form of the Tobacco Act.

This brings me to another main concern I have about Bill C-260. The current integrated approach to tobacco control works well in Canada. With direction provided by the Tobacco Act Health Canada's tobacco control program has accomplished a great deal to date in helping to curb and to reduce tobacco use among Canadians. That is why we have become a world leader on tobacco control.

Among the programs' noteworthy accomplishments is the development and the implementation of the federal tobacco control strategy, known as FTCS. This strategy includes $560 million in funding over five years to control and curb tobacco use in Canada. The FTCS embodies our belief that the most effective way to prevent and reduce tobacco use in Canada is by adopting a comprehensive, integrated and sustained approach carried out in collaboration with all partners and directed at Canadians of all ages.

It paved the way for the development of the ministerial advisory council and opened the door to improve collaboration with the provinces on tobacco related issues. The FTCS includes a long term objective: an exploration of how to mandate changes to tobacco products and reduce hazards to health.

Sections 61 and 62 of the Tobacco Act are consequential amendments to the Hazardous Products Act, specifically inserted to exclude the advertising, sale or importation of a tobacco product from jurisdictions of the Hazardous Products Act. For this reason it is the view of the Government of Canada that regulation of the so-called fire safe cigarettes, or more appropriately referred to as low ignition propensity cigarettes, should fall under the Tobacco Act.

I wish to thank the hon. member for Scarborough East for bringing this bill forward. His private member's bill raises many valid points about the need for measures to protect Canadians from fire hazards caused by carelessly handled or discarded cigarettes and cigars.

The question at hand is how best to proceed. Though I have expressed some concerns about accomplishing this under the Hazardous Products Act I recognize the importance of the objectives he is trying to reach. I would endorse the subject matter being sent to committee for further examination to determine the best way to achieve these worthwhile objectives.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2002 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-260, a private member's bill entitled, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act. I thank the hon. member for Scarborough East for bringing this important matter before the House of Commons in the form of a private member's bill.

Let me state from the outset that the bill deals with property damage caused by careless smoking, but more important, it deals with saving lives. In 1992 careless smoking in Canada accounted for 68 fatalities, 385 injuries, $37 million in damages and 3,199 fires.

On average, Canadians consume approximately 56 billion cigarettes annually and the damage caused by them is substantial. The solution to this may be found in what is known as flammability standards. When I read over the legislation the first thought that came to mind was that the bill was not trying to get Canadians to stop smoking, but that smoking was an addiction that required help. Rather, what the bill says is that if people do smoke, we will make it safer for them as well as for those around them.

Essentially what the bill would do is compel the Minister of Health to report to Parliament and explain why the Hazardous Products Act should or should not be amended to include cigarettes under the category of flammability standards.

Clearly this is an issue that affects the entire country regardless of age or region. Further, I am sure members would no doubt agree that saving lives of smokers and non-smokers alike is of significant public interest to all of us here in the Chamber this afternoon.

One lit cigarette left unattended can have dire consequences and devastating impacts. Dangerous smoking may seem to many to be a non-issue, however, it is a very important one which Canadians from coast to coast must be encouraged to take seriously. Over the years cigarette fires have caused a large number of fatalities. The terrible tragedies is that most of the deaths could have been prevented if smokers had just taken a few simple precautions.

The thing that Canadians must be aware of is that it can happen to anyone, young or old, at any time. If one is smoking late at night or after a drink, it is only natural that one's reactions tend to be slower and, as such, that is the time when extra care must be taken while smoking.

A smouldering cigarette is the biggest cause of fatal fires, causing one-third of all deaths from fires in the home. These fires are more likely to start during the night and some of the most common places for them to start are sofas, beds and carpets. A cigarette burns at up to 780° centigrade, so I would remind all Canadians to ensure that when they put out a cigarette that it is really put out.

There is good news in all of this because cigarette-related fires can be prevented by taking a few simple precautions. Some of these include: avoid smoking in bed; avoid leaving lit cigarettes unattended; always use a proper ashtray and make sure it cannot be knocked over; take special care when you are tired or you have been drinking; keep matches and lighters away from children; and install and maintain a smoke alarm.

Although these personal safety precautions can be taken, more can and must be done. It is for this reason that I applaud my colleague for bringing this private member's bill forward. Cigarettes should be included in the Hazardous Products Act and flammability standards should be applied to them. It is worth noting that currently in the United States, the Massachusetts legislature has before it a unique opportunity to move Massachusetts out front in its effort to save lives from being lost to cigarettes.

Smoking materials are the leading cause of fatal fires in the United States. Recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that there were 900 fire deaths, 2,500 injuries and $410 million in property damage caused by smoking materials in one year in the United States.

In Massachusetts in the 1990s there were 178 deaths, 763 fire injuries and $75 million in property damage caused by such fires. During the same period these fires caused 677 firefighter injuries in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts legislature has before it the Moakley bill, a state version of the federal legislation first introduced in congress by Joe Moakley in 1979. It would require that all cigarettes sold in Massachusetts have strict fire safety standards. When left burning unattended they would extinguish themselves or burn at temperatures that do not ignite furniture or mattresses, thereby lessening the chance of fire. This is a very good idea and a very worthwhile piece of legislation. Lessons can be learned from the Massachusetts approach and I think that those who are interested in this topic should take time to read over the Moakley bill.

Also New York State recently passed a similar bill unanimously stating that all cigarettes sold in the state would have to meet flammability standards by July 2003. It remains my solemn opinion that this is certainly the right thing to do.

The following facts are statistics from Great Britain. Smoking could be more dangerous that we think. Every three days someone dies because of a cigarette fire. The highest injury rate in smoking material fires is among young people between the ages of 25 and 34. Men are more likely to be killed or injured in cigarette fires; six out of 10 of those killed are men and over half of those injured are men. Six out of ten smokers say cigarettes are one of the top causes of house fires but every year fewer and fewer people are taking steps to prevent these fires. Only four out of ten smokers say that they check their ashtrays before going to bed each night. Nearly half of all households have a smoker living in them. These households are nearly one and a half times more likely to have a fire than non-smoking homes. Despite the dangers of falling asleep or setting bedding on fire, 17% of smokers confessed to lighting up in bed; 18 to 34 year olds are even more likely to smoke in bed.

I think my remarks today will reflect the importance of implementing cigarette safety standards here in Canada. The choices are simple: life or death.

We have a golden opportunity here to support this private member's bill. I hope the Minister of Health and the entire government will take notice of the widespread support for the bill and work hard toward implementing appropriate standards for cigarettes in this country as a result.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

November 25th, 2002 / 11:45 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-260, a private member's bill entitled an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act. I thank the hon. member for Scarborough East for bringing this important matter to the House of Commons.

Let me state from the outset the bill deals with property damaged caused by careless smoking, but most important, it deals with saving lives. That is why I congratulate the member. This initiative could save lives if it creates an awareness within people who are careless with cigarettes.

I will use a statistic on careless smoking that is actually 10 years old so today it would be much more relevant and careless smoking would be much more costly. In 1992, careless smoking in Canada accounted for 68 fatalities, 385 injuries, $37 million in damages and 3,199 fires.

How often have we heard that a fire was caused because somebody dropped a cigarette? How often have we heard that somebody went out, had a few drinks, came home, sat back to watch television, lit a cigarette and let it drop on the carpet or on the sofa and there was a fire? In fact, the biggest cause of fatalities in the home is careless smoking.

On average, Canadians consume approximately 56 billion cigarettes annually and the damage caused by them is substantial. There are 56 billion cigarettes in the hands of individuals and they are sometimes used carelessly.The bill certainly is not trying to say “do not smoke”. The bill is simply trying to create a greater awareness about the dangers of using what is potentially a death causing agent.

Essentially the bill would compel the Minister of Health to report to Parliament and explain why the Hazardous Products Act should or should not be amended to include cigarettes under the category of flammability standards. Clearly this is an issue that affects the entire country, regardless of age or region.

Further, Mr. Speaker, you would no doubt agree that saving lives of smokers and non-smokers alike is of significant public interest and of interest to all of us here in this chamber this morning. Saving lives is one thing. Saving property is something else.

One of the major concerns we have in certain parts of the country today, particularly in our home province of Newfoundland, and particularly again in the city of St. John's, is that insurance companies are telling people that they will no longer insure their homes. The cost of replacement is so high that, first, many of them now will not take on new clients, and second, they are even telling certain people that they will no longer carry their coverage. Other companies are saying they will do a deal, that if people give them all their other insurance, for their cars or whatever, they probably will take a look at their homes. One of the reasons for that is the amount of high value claims, and of course one of the reasons we have such claims is the careless use of cigarettes.

This is an extremely important subject to be talking about. It is unfortunate that we have so little time to talk about it, because at the end of the hour we have to move on; however, move on to what? I guess that is the question we should ask. Anybody looking at the Order Paper for the next few days or weeks would realize that government has practically nothing to bring forth. That is why today it is rushing in the Kyoto resolution. In fact, I think the Minister of the Environment will introduce a resolution that the House call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Meanwhile, as we speak, I believe, the premiers from across the country are talking by teleconference to try to find common solutions to their dilemma. If they can be found, the House might be able to agree unanimously to ratify the Kyoto protocol, but we have no idea of what is happening.

Consequently, that is why I do not think the resolution should be introduced this morning. That is why I move:

That this House do now adjourn.

Hazardous Products ActPrivate Members' Business

November 25th, 2002 / 11:35 a.m.
See context

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act. I would like to join with colleagues in the House to congratulate the member for Scarborough East in introducing this constructive recommendation for the House of Commons.

The bill proposes to do what is in the best interests of the public and to ensure the safety of all in our society who choose to smoke or are subject to fatalities caused by fire from the smoking of cigarettes.

Obviously, in our view, the bill should be broadened to address some of the most serious shortcomings of the policies of the government when it comes to smoking cessation and tobacco policies. However we appreciate the fact that this is targeted toward one part of the problem and we want to indicate our support for the initiative. It clearly addresses a serious public concern, as others have pointed out, that some 100 people die every year because of careless smoking, and many more are injured. It is a costly problem in our society both from the point of view human health and loss of property.

In that context obviously all of us want to offer our appreciation to the firefighters of Canada for always responding so quickly in the event of a fire caused by careless smoking. We know that many more deaths would occur if it were not that our firefighters are so prepared and ready to respond on a moment's notice to such an incident.

I commend the member for his persistence in bringing this matter forward and look forward to moving the bill as expeditiously as possible through the process. I want to indicate to him and to the House that I will support it. I am sure my colleagues will join with me in indicating support for moving the bill to committee following our first hour of debate, if such a motion were presented to the House.

I appreciate when the member says that this vote is a test of the will of Parliament. I hope when the will of Parliament is tested that we will join together across party lines and support this initiative, which is one small step toward ensuring public safety and dealing with the terrible outcome of tobacco use in our society today. I hope once the will of Parliament is tested and a majority of support is indicated for this bill, which I assume will be the case, that the member then has the ability to hold his government to account for implementation of such a bill because the true test of this place in terms of democracy comes down to actions by the government to enforce the will of Parliament.

Unfortunately, as we well know, too many times Parliament has expressed its intentions and supported initiatives, sometimes almost unanimously, and the government chooses to ignore those initiatives. I speak from personal experience in the case of the motion that I introduced in the House requiring labels on all alcohol beverage containers indicating that drinking during pregnancy could cause harm.

That motion received almost unanimous support from the House. Unfortunately it is still sitting on the desk of the Minister of Health who has indicated publicly that she has no intentions of implementing that motion. That is the most offensive denial of the democratic principles we hold so near and dear. I hope the member for Scarborough East, in his determination to see this initiative on smoking passed and implemented, will have some sway with the Minister of Health over this issue and many other issues.

On the broader issue of tobacco, it is important to note that while it is true that fires caused from flammable cigarettes lead to numerous deaths and fatalities, they pale in comparison to the deaths caused by cigarette smoking to begin with. Thousands of people who smoke cigarettes die every year because of their addiction to tobacco. It is on that count that the true test of the government's will must be registered.

It is with respect to the government's stated objective to crack down on tobacco companies to ensure prevention of smoking in the first place that we pay most careful attention. It is absolutely clear that on this broad issue of public safety and human health the government has failed. There is no question that the issue of smoking cessation and prevention of tobacco use has languished under the present Minister of Health and that many initiatives that were begun under the former Minister of Health have been left to languish and gather dust in the Department of Health.

It is on this issue that we have tremendous concerns. I hope that through Bill C-260 we can focus on the broader issues and the imperative before the government of the day to prevent the misuse of tobacco products in general and to ensure that there is the will to take on tobacco companies once and for all and deal with a number of issues, not just the flammability of the product involved but the way in which that product is advertised, the way in which young people are lured to smoke, and the way in which false advertising is used with respect to light and mild cigarettes.

I think it is absolutely imperative to point out that despite statements made by this government, despite its promises, despite the studies done, the current Tobacco Act does nothing to block Internet advertising. That is a serious issue for young people getting addicted to cigarettes. Let me also point out that companies today can escape Canadian advertising bans by selling brands advertised in U.S. magazines. We have tried to crack down on the one hand, but we have failed to close this loophole and that is a serious problem.

Retail promotions remain a way for tobacco companies to market their brands. Only two provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have taken the initiative to ban the display of cigarettes in retail stores where children are allowed. The federal government continues to refuse to move this initiative forward and provide some national guidelines and regulations. It is also important to note that the absence of requirements for health warnings on advertisements encourages new forms of advertising. The government said it would address the many loopholes but has failed to do so.

Finally, let me say with respect to the previous statements made by the Minister of Health in regard to prohibiting tobacco companies from using the words “light” and “mild”, that agenda sits unattended. That very important initiative has been languishing on the desk of the Minister of Health.

I hope, given the seriousness of this issue today, not only in terms of fires caused by flammable cigarettes but also because of the deaths and illnesses caused by tobacco use and addiction to cigarettes, that we will see a broad based agenda emerge from these discussions and a clear message from Parliament to the government, to the health minister and to Health Canada to embark on a serious agenda to stop this most serious blight on our society today.