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Canada high court upholds tobacco ad restrictions

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] unanimously upheld a federal restriction on tobacco advertisements [judgment text] Thursday, finding it did not violate the free expression rights of tobacco companies. The suit was brought by the JTI-Macdonald, Rothmans, and Imperial Tobacco Canada [corporate websites], which challenged Canada's 1997 Tobacco Act [text], a statute which heavily limits tobacco advertisements in the country. The Court held that there are still some venues open for tobacco advertising, but a lawyer for Imperial Tobacco told the CBC that Canadians "will never see a billboard or television ad" for tobacco products. The companies are free to advertise to adults in age-restricted places where young people are forbidden, in certain adult publications, and in mailings sent directly to adults. The Canadian Cancer Society, which joined the case [brief, PDF], has applauded the decision [press release].

Thursday's decision brings to an end a decade-long legal challenge [CBC backgrounder]. In 2005, the Quebec Court of Appeal granted tobacco companies the right to sponsor events using their company names [JURIST report], but upheld the ban on using tobacco brand names. The Canadian federal government, as well as numerous provincial governments, supported the ban. CBC has more. CP has additional coverage.

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