August 20, 2010 - The provincial court (Judge Claudine MacDonald) issued a decision supporting a tobacco shop owner’s claim that the Tobacco Access Act infringed on his right to freedom of expression and his ability to communicate with customers.
Maders Tobacco Shop in Kentville, owned by Bob Gee, was charged in July 2009 for failure to comply with the storage and display requirements of the Tobacco Access Act. The Tobacco Access Act prohibits vendors from advertising and prominently displaying tobacco products behind store counters. The vendor contested the charge under section 2(b)of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of expression.
In a press release, the Government of Nova Scotia emphasized despite the court decision issued today, provincial tobacco legislation is still in effect. “The most important thing is that this legislation is still valid and will continue to protect the health and safety of young people, non-smokers and tobacco users looking to stop,” said acting Minister of Health Promotion and Protection Graham Steele. “We have a strong argument demonstrating the importance of this legislation. It’s a key piece of our work to reduce smoking rates and improve the health of Nova Scotians.”
A recent Stanford University study found that teens are twice as likely to try smoking if they frequent stores plastered with cigarette displays..
The court case is ongoing. Now that a decision has been reached, the province has an opportunity to present arguments on Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to demonstrate that an infringement on freedom of expression is necessary for the public good. The next court date is October 6, 2010, when a date will be set for the province to present arguments on Section 1.
In the meantime, the legislation remains in effect, said Graham Steele, the acting minister of health promotion and protection.
Back in June 2007 Nova Scotia became the eighth province to ban tobacco advertising in retail stores, joining Saskatchewan (March 11, 2002), Manitoba (January 1, 2004), Nunavut (February 1, 2004, Prince Edward Island (June 1, 2006), Ontario (May 31, 2008), Quebec (May 31, 2008), and Northwest Territories (awaiting proclamation).The province can appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court if it loses the constitutional hearing. If Gees loses, the charges will stand and the case will continue in the court system.
Nova Scotia (NS) - ban on point of sale tobacco advertising
Canadian Cancer Society lawyer Rob Cunningham expressed disappointment with MacDonald’s decision. All provinces have adopted legislation similar to Nova Scotia’s that bans tobacco displays, he said.
References: Judge: Tobacco-display ban violates store owner’s rights Kentville merchant wins first round in court fight with province by JOHN McPHEE (firstname.lastname@example.org) Health Reporter, TheChronicleHerald.ca, 8/19/2010; NS: Court rules in favour of Kentville tobacco shop owner by Staff, Transcontinental Media, Source: The Daily Business Buzz, 8/18/2010.