PROVINCE WANTS TOBACCO TOXINS DISCLOSED

PROVINCE WANTS TOBACCO TOXINS DISCLOSED

British Columbia, the only Canadian province planning to sue the tobacco industry, also wants cigarette makers to inform the public about any toxic ingredients in their products, officials said Wednesday.

Provincial officials said the disclosure requirement, along with new rules aimed at shaming and fining retailers who sell tobacco to minors, are part of an effort to reduce youth smoking and make the industry more accountable.''If we can force the tobacco companies to tell the public the whole truth about deadly poisons in tobacco and tobacco smoke, then people can make more informed choices about what they put in their bodies,'' Health Minister Penny Priddy said in a statement.

Officials said the information would probably be included in the health warning currently required on cigarette packs, but some details of the legislation introduced Tuesday still have to be worked out.

An industry official said Canadian cigarette makers already disclose their product content to federal health officials, and had questioned whether new rules were needed because most Canadian cigarettes do not include the additives found in U.S. brands.

''About 85 percent of Canadian cigarettes have nothing but blends of tobacco in them,'' said Robert Parker of the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturing Council.

Tobacco companies are under pressure around the globe to make ingredient disclosures.

In the United States, Massachusetts is attempting to force a similar requirement, but the law is now tied up in court.

Thailand enacted a similar requirement earlier this year.

British Columbia has announced it intends to sue Canada's tobacco industry to recover health costs associated with smoking in a suit similar to those filed by state attorneys general in the United States.

The British Columbia suit is expected to be filed within weeks.

Canada's provincial premiers declined last year to adopt the unified legal approach being used against the tobacco industry in the United States.

Another measure proposed by British Columbia Tuesday would require any store whose right to sell tobacco has been suspended to post a sign announcing the suspension to the public.

''I think if a retailer is selling tobacco to kids I think parents in the neighborhood want to know that,'' Health Ministry spokesman Jeff Gaulin said.

It is estimated that up to 25 percent of British Columbia's residents smoke, and the province maintains that smoking-related illnesses cost its health-care system 1.6 billion Canadian dollars (US$1.1 billion) annually.

Imperial Tobacco Ltd., a unit of Imasco Ltd., controls about 65 percent of the Canadian cigarette market. Imasco is 40 percent owned by BAT Industries PLC of Britain.

The second-biggest player, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc., is owned 60 percent by Rothmans Inc. and 40 percent by Philip Morris Cos. Rothmans Inc. is a unit of Rothmans International PLC of Britain.

In third place is RJR MacDonald, wholly owned by RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., itself a unit of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International.