Anti-smoking group tries to speed ruling on ‘light,’ ‘mild’

TORONTO- An anti-smoking group fighting to prohibit the sale of “light”: and “mild” cigarettes asked a federal judge Tuesday to prod the Competition Bureau into making a decision on the contentious issue.

A complaint that alleges the labels of “light” and “mild” are fraudulent and pose a substantial health risk to Canadians has been before the competition commissioner for two and a half years, but a decision has yet to be made.

“Where there is a public duty to be preformed… there is [an expectation] it be conducted in a reasonable time,” lawyer Robert Cosman said in requesting that Federal Court Justice Elizabeth Heneghan order a resolution to the continuing inquiry.

“By any standards, 32 months is unreasonable. It’s not a complex issue.”
Heneghan reserved her decision following one day of submissions from Cosman and Competition Bureau lawyer Michael Peirece.

The advocacy group, comprised of doctors, lawyers and public health officials, filed a complaint in June 2003 in a bid to stop cigarette manufactures from marketing their products as “light” or “mild.”

The tobacco industry has argued that such labels make no claims about health risks, but merely describe different brands of cigarettes.

On Tuesday, Pierce told the court the issues facing the commissioner are indeed “complex” and that the inquiry should be allowed to complete its work.

Medical experts argue that “light” and “mild” tobacco products are no less dangerous to human health than regular brands because smokers draw harder on light cigarettes to get the nicotine they need to satisfy their addiction.

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