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Smokes: First you'll feel green, and then you'll die

Cigarette company touts environmental package

May 13, 2009 04:30 AM

MOIRA WELSH
ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

Cigarette companies are promoting health – for the environment.

In a full-page advertisement inside Toronto Life magazine, du Maurier Canada boasts of its new "greener" cigarette packages, which, at this rate, may soon be safer to smoke than the products they contain.

Parent company Imperial Tobacco has replaced foil wrapping with paper and uses external cardboard packaging that "meets standards supporting sustainable forest management,' according to the ad.

"Small steps make the difference," it reads.

Gideon Forman laughed when asked about it. Later, when he stopped laughing, the spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment said:

"Is it green washing? Yes.

"Are they making a product that is still toxic to people's health? Yes.

"So they are now making a product with a little bit more paper. Big deal."

Imperial Tobacco Canada spokesperson Eric Gagnon responded, "Our product is going to be in the waste or the dumpster, so what we try to do in terms of ... corporate social responsibility is do it in a good manner."

Heather Marshall specializes in waste packaging issues for the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

"My first reaction is: Isn't that a wolf in sheep's clothing?" she said.

Even with more recyclable packaging, the cigarette filters leave a toxic pollutant on streets and beaches, she said.

"Their packaging changes are the only brownie point in this whole story," Marshall said.

Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada, had already seen du Maurier's green plans advertised on the plastic wrapping of older cigarette boxes.

"I had to wonder," she said, "why isn't this space being used to give consumers more information on their health?"

As published at: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/633388

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