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Ontario Government Initiates Legislation Against Tobacco Industry
March, 2009 – The Gazette, A. Fonarev
Ontario could soon be suing big tobacco companies over money the province has spent on tobacco-related health care costs.
Premier Dalton McGuinty allowed for legislation to be put forth to allow the province to sue the tobacco industry as a whole for billions of dollars of medical costs.
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have already begun to pass legislation of this nature and the Supreme Court of Canada has allowed it.
“Right now all the people of Ontario are paying those costs which are $1.6 billion a year. Other provinces say that those responsible for the costs should be paying for the costs,” Chris Bentley, attorney general of Ontario, said.
Bentley explained the legislation claims tobacco companies presented their products in ways that diluted their health risks to consumers in the past.
“The lawsuits allege that the tobacco companies targeted their product to children, marketed their cigarettes as being safer when they were not, kept research away from the public and got together to undermine the public health warnings about tobacco,” he said.
If passed, this bill would legally allow the government to sue those it deems responsible for those health care costs. “It gives the government the right to sue for harm done to individuals,” Bentley said, adding he believed tobacco companies should be the ones paying for tobacco-related health care costs, not taxpayers.
So far the bill has received positive reaction in provincial assembly and with the public.
“We’ve been advocating this for years so we’re really pleased,” Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, said. “This is an extremely important step forward for justice and accountability for the tobacco industry.”
Perley is confident the accusations will stand in court.
“Cases of illness are going back to the 1960s, so this is not anything recent,” he said. “[The companies’] own documents show that they knew what they were doing.”
While Perley is happy with the legislation, he explained there are non-monetary provisions the settlement could contain. These could include a total elimination of tobacco advertising, plain packaging for products or other regulations.
But Bentley did not want to get ahead of the legislation.
“The issue is who is going to be accountable for the health care costs for tobacco related injuries,” he explained, adding the settlement is still to be discussed.
However, Perley speculated the settlement will reach $50 to $60 billion, based on documentation. The money is likely to go toward government services.
“The money collected in the U.S. settlements went toward tobacco control, roads and infrastructure, and other services,” Perley said. However, Bentley stressed the government is currently focusing on the legislation, not the allocation of the settlement.
“We started the second reading [in provincial legislature] the other day,” Bentley added.
Canadian tobacco companies Imperial Tobacco and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges were contacted but were unable to return comment prior to deadline.
8 Lesser Known Side Effects Of Smoking
March, 2009 – Canadian Cancer Society
Smoking presents some side effects that we don’t talk about.
Let’s face it – we all know smoking is bad for us. Most of us know that it can cause lung cancer, smoker’s cough and all-around bad breath. But there are some other not-so-pretty side effects that you might not have known.
Bad Skin And Wrinkles
Because smoking restricts blood vessels, it can prevent oxygen and nutrients like Vitamin A from getting to the skin. Smoking also affects the body’s production of collagen and elastin, fibres that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely. Lines tend to develop around the mouth from sucking on cigarettes and around the eyes from squinting through smoke.
Increased Risk Of Injury
Your skin is not the only tissue that is composed of collagen. This fibre is also present in your tendons and ligaments. Therefore if your body’s ability to produce collagen is hampered, injuries involving damage to tendons and ligaments will heal more slowly. These types of injuries are common, especially for those people involved in sports.
Slow Healing Time
Smokers’ broken bones often take a lot longer to heal and the reason for this is simple. Nicotine, a main ingredient in cigarettes, constricts blood vessels to around 25 per cent of their normal diameter. Since the new formation of bone depends on an adequate supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients reaching the injured area, bones tend to heal more slowly in smokers because lower levels of nutrients are supplied to the bones.
Increased Risk Of Illness
Studies show that smokers get more colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia than non-smokers. In addition, people with certain health conditions, like asthma, become sicker if they smoke (and often if they’re just around people who smoke). As well, teens that smoke as a way to manage weight often light up instead of eating. As a result, their bodies lack the nutrients they need to grow, develop and fight off illness properly.
British studies have recently shown that smoking increases the chances of going blind, as you get older. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) results in severe and irreversible loss of central vision, especially in people over the age of 60. Experts warn that smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to lose their sight in later life. Some of these experts further argue that the link between AMD and smoking is now as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer.
Smoking Could Burn Down Your House
You may be chuckling and that’s okay. But read this anyways. Smoking is actually the cause of many house fires, some of which cost human lives. According to a worldwide study published by the University of California Davis in 1998, smoking is a leading cause of house fires and fire-related deaths. In particular, smoking in bed is a major cause of accidental fire deaths because people fall asleep with burning cigarettes on their beds.
Guys, take note: smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by around 50 per cent for men in their 30s and 40s. Most of us know that eating fatty foods can increase cholesterol and fatty deposits inside our arteries, but fewer people are aware that smoking also increases these fatty deposits. A long-term build up of fatty deposits in the arteries that carry blood to the penis can decrease the flow of blood into that area.
Dulls Your Taste Buds
Chemicals and tar from cigarettes coat the inside of a smoker’s mouth, including their taste buds, which leads some smokers to over-season their food. The chemicals and tar in cigarettes also hamper the functioning of the cells of the taste buds and “nose buds”. Since our sense of taste depends largely on whether or not we can smell what we’re eating, dulled olfactory cells will lead to dulled taste.
What is Third-Hand Smoke?
Janurary 2009 – Scientific America
Ever take a whiff of a smoker’s hair and feel faint from the pungent scent of cigarette smoke? Or perhaps you have stepped into an elevator and wondered why it smells like someone has lit up when there is not a smoker in sight. Welcome to the world of third-hand smoke.
“Third-hand” smoke – which lingers in cars, on furniture and on smokers themselves after a cigarette is extinguished – leaves toxic chemicals that crawling children can ingest, say pediatricians.
In the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, Dr. Jonathan Winickoff of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues said parents sometimes try to shield their children from second-hand smoke by rolling down the car window or smoking in the kitchen with the fan on, but the risks of third-hand smoke still exist.
The researchers surveyed 1,500 U.S. households to learn about parents’ attitudes toward third-hand smoke. They found 65 per cent of non-smokers and 43 per cent of smokers surveyed agreed that third-hand smoke can harm the health of children.
Why is third-hand smoke dangerous?
There are 250 poisonous toxins found in cigarette smoke. One such substance is lead. Very good studies show that tiny levels of exposure are associated with diminished IQ.
Why are the risks associated with exposure to third-hand smoke different for children and adults?
The developing brain is uniquely susceptible to extremely low levels of toxins. Babies and children tend to play, touch, or even mouth contaminated surfaces.
What types of places or materials harbor the greatest amount of third-hand smoke?
Anywhere you see an enclosed space you should watch out for it.
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