Perhaps I have gone too far in suggesting the hon. member might be able to engage in debate of the subject matter in an intelligent way. I will reflect upon my earlier assertion and perhaps at the end of the debate I will have a few words to say to my friends opposite.
Young people are sophisticated enough to understand the purposes of tobacco company marketing tools. Health Canada's 1994 youth smoking survey found that 85 per cent of young smokers and 83 per cent of non-smokers agreed that advertisements for events
sponsored by tobacco companies were a means to directly advertise cigarette brands.
I recognize many of my colleagues opposite have expressed concern about the link between sponsorship and youth smoking. I would like to take a few moments to discuss that issue.
The National Cancer Institute of Canada has issued a report entitled "Tobacco Marketing and Youth: Examination of Youth Attitudes and Behaviour on Tobacco Industry Advertising and Sponsorship". This is Canada's premier cancer research organization. It concluded an exhaustive review of the available science not only in Canada but indeed beyond our borders.
The institute found there was substantial evidence that young people are aware of and respond to cigarette advertising. Advertisements present images that appeal to youth and are seen and remembered by them.
The United States will be implementing a full ban on sponsorship promotion in August 1998. I would like to share the following points from the federal registry of August 28, 1996.
The FDA has found that image based advertising is particularly effective with young people and that the information conveyed by imagery is likely to be more significant to young people than information conveyed by other means in advertisement.
The FDA also pointed to studies showing that children are exposed to substantial and unavoidable advertising, that exposure to tobacco advertising leads to favourable beliefs about tobacco's use, that advertising plays a role in leading young people to overestimate the prevalence of tobacco use, and that these factors are related to young people's tobacco initiation and use.
In essence it is a way in which to present an image and an environment that smoking is okay, that smoking some how is sexy, and that smokers should not worry about getting some form of disease in the future. It is a very well carved and focused strategy by the advertisers but in particular the tobacco companies.
The FDA also looked at sponsored events and found that the effect of sponsored events on young people who attend such events was enormous. Advertising affects young people's opinion of tobacco products, first, by creating attractive and existing images that can serve as a badge of identification; second, by utilizing multiple and prolonged exposure in a variety of media; and, third, by associating the product with varied positive events and images.
The World Health Organization also recognized the link between tobacco sponsorship and consumption. It has found that the tobacco industry uses the sponsoring of sports and entertainment to complement and/or replace other marketing activities to reach large audiences and to associate their products with positive images.
I am not standing here today to tell adults how to live their lives. I am not telling them to quit smoking although I would hope they would. I am not banning tobacco in this country.
Some have suggested that only a ban on tobacco would really address this public health challenge. There are seven million addicted smokers in Canada. If we were to ban this product, can we imagine the chaos and smuggling that would take place? They are addicted to a substance which according to scientific reports is more addictive than heroin. They are addicted to a product that would be prohibited if introduced on the market today. It is a product that kills when used as directed.
It is not a new product. It is a product with generations of use and an insidious hold. To be reasonable and to be responsible we have to make every effort to prevent youth from beginning to smoke. Experts on tobacco generally agree it is far more productive to discourage young people from experimenting with smoking than trying to place several legal restrictions on adult smokers. Our strategy must be to reduce and ultimately eliminate tobacco use.
We introduced a blueprint in December 1995 whereby numerous consultations took place. We consulted widely with provincial and territorial governments, the health community, tobacco manufacturers, collateral industries, sports and cultural groups, and concerned Canadians. There were over 2,700 submissions in response to the blueprint. Now, 15 months later, I stand before the House at third reading of Bill C-71. The bill contains reasonable measures that will restrict advertising and sponsorship promotion.
Let me make it perfectly clear that we are not banning advertising. We are not banning sponsorship promotion. Instead the bill will place restrictions on these promotional activities which will reduce the exposure of cigarettes in Canadian society.
The government has taken into consideration the concerns of the arts and sports events that rely on tobacco company sponsorship. We have set an implementation period for the sponsorship restriction provisions. We will bring them into force in October 1998. This is effectively a two-season adjustment period.
Let me remind the House that the completion of the implementation period equates to a banning of sponsorship or sponsorship promotion. I challenge some of the national media outlets and their spokespersons to stop acting in a grossly negligent manner in pursuing a track of misinformation about the bill and about the effects of the bill. It is just not so.
The coming into force of section 24 in October 1998 will mean the implementation of restrictions on the extent to which sponsorship activities can be promoted.
I have seen the various legal opinions that the tobacco industry has circulated about Bill C-71. One interpretation asserted that the bill would prohibit persons under 18 years of age from being hired at retail locations where tobacco products are sold. The bill creates no such prohibition and does not deal with criteria for vendors and employees in any way. The bill focuses on the ages of the purchasers. It focuses on sales to minors. Other interpretations have alleged that maximum fines and imprisonment will automatically ensue for any contravention of the act on the day following its coming into force.
In reality, such interpretation ignores the establishment of an enforcement policy in my own department. This policy deems prosecution as a last resort to achieve compliance. It includes warning letters and consultations prior to any consideration of legal action. If members opposite are asking me to do the exact opposite, I will reflect on that.
I could probably stand here all day and talk about the various legal opinions tobacco lobbyists have circulated. We know they are the heart and soul of members of the Bloc Quebec, the lobbyist. I find that the unholy alliance of the Bloc Quebecois and the tobacco lobbyists is rather insidious. For every 15 minutes that this debate continues, one more Canadian will join the role of those who died sooner than they would have otherwise, all because of tobacco use.
Let me add one comment regarding those legal opinions. I have publicly offered a voluntary preclearance mechanism. What I have proposed is that when individuals or groups are apprehensive about possible prosecution under this legislation, when they want to ensure that their advertising or their sponsorship promotion fits within restrictions, they can come to my department and discuss it with our officials.
Before event organizers start making unfounded allegations about what they can do and cannot do, I encourage them to review the restrictions with my department.
It is important not to lose sight of the strong support for Bill C-71 which comes from every region of the country. The Canadian Medical Association supports the legislation: "We are looking for expedient passage of Bill C-71 because we know that the future generation of Canadians must be protected from the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the country".
The president of the Canadian Cancer Society also wrote: "I am writing to express my support for Bill C-71 and to urge you and your ministry to do everything possible within legal frameworks to help end the tragedy of death by tobacco".
I have also received the endorsement of the Coalition québécoise pour le controle du tabac. It represents over 561 organizations across the province of Quebec. The number includes 238 towns and municipalities across the province of Quebec. It includes the Association of Cardiologists of Quebec, the Quebec Dental Association, the Quebec Association of Family Physicians, the Pathologists Association of Quebec, the Quebec Paediatrics Association, the Quebec Medical Association, the Quebec Public Health Association, the Quebec Lung Association and the Quebec division of the Canadian Cancer Society.
My friends opposite on one hand supported Bill C-71 and the principles at second reading and have now done a major flip-flop, the hypocrisy of the Bloc Quebecois. They must be accountable for this flip-flop. They must be accountable to those 561 organizations that support the provisions of Bill C-71.
To the hon. members opposite, their day of reckoning is coming and it is coming fairly soon. They will pay the price for their opposition to the health of the Quebec people, particularly the young people of the province of Quebec.
It falls to my colleagues opposite with the same force that it falls to me as the Minister of Health. We cannot, as members of Parliament, overlook the unavoidable toll of tobacco.
In Quebec alone, the members of the Bloc Quebecois, in their unholy alliance with the tobacco companies and the lobbyists, are saying to 76,000 young people who will begin smoking this year they do not care about the health of les enfants des quebecois. That is what they are saying by their opposition to Bill C-71. This is 30 per cent of the beginning smokers in the country as a whole. Smoking is more common in the province of Quebec than in other parts of Canada and the hon. members know it. They reject outright the efforts of the hon. minister of health in the province of Quebec, one of their own, Jean Rochon.
It is a flip-flop today. Why? It is to get the media headlines each and every day in order to save their political skins in the next federal election.
Thirty-eight per cent of Quebecers are smokers. In the rest of Canada the rate is 31 per cent. They are both unacceptably high. As many as three million people alive today in Canada will die from tobacco related diseases, and one million of those are in the province of Quebec. That is far too many. These are reasons enough to do all we can to reduce tobacco consumption in this country.
I know a number of my colleagues are waiting to speak to this bill. They share my concerns about reducing tobacco consumption in Canadian youth. However, let me take a few moments to
acknowledge the efforts of some of the people who have helped get us this legislation here today.
I refer of course to my parliamentary secretary. The member for Eglinton-Lawrence certainly deserves a lot of praise and a lot of recognition. He has brought his experience and judgment to this bill and I wish to thank him for it. I also want to thank the hon. member for Burin-St. George's who chairs the Standing Committee on Health. I want to thank all members of that committee regardless of their political affiliations.
I would be remiss in my remarks if I did not single out one member. In this House we have differed on many issues and I would suspect that we will continue to differ on many other issues. However, I must give credit where credit is due, to the non-partisanship demonstrated by the hon. member for Macleod. He has stood in his place time and time again and attacked me on a variety of different issues, but when it comes to this issue of smoking, tobacco and the control of tobacco use in this country, he has not stood with the Minister of Health; he has stood with the young people and I think he is deserving of praise from all of us in this Chamber.
I want to thank the members of the Bloc Quebecois, in particular the member for Lévis. I know they have concerns with the bill but I am confident that at the end of the day they will put the health of Canadians and, yes, the health of Quebecers first and foremost.
I say to members of the Bloc I know that many of them who are over there are very uncomfortable with the decisions that have been made by the leadership of the Bloc Quebecois. I know that. I say to my hon. friends opposite that it is never too late to change one's mind and do the right thing. I am sure that the children in the province of Quebec will be forever indebted to members of the Bloc Quebecois if they were to exert the kind of leadership that others in the province of Quebec have exerted in terms of supporting children and supporting the health of those children in the province of Quebec.
Finally, I wish to say a few words about the other place. Hopefully later this day this bill will receive third reading. It will leave this Chamber and go to another chamber. I would suspect, having the respect that I have for the other chamber and its members, they will examine this bill in an expeditious way, but in a comprehensive way, and that they too will see the purposes of what this bill is about. It is about the health of Canadians. It is about the health of children. It is about the health of children in the future.
I want to thank all members of the House who have participated in this debate. I know at times it has been acrimonious, but I want to say to all members that we can be a part of something which is very important to the country. I enjoin all members to join with me in that act.