Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Page: 12


"You've come a long way, baby."

This is the famous slogan of the Virginia Slims brand - a long, slim
cigarette marketed to women as a sign of the progress of feminism and
freedom for their gender.

Society has also come a long way in its thinking around the marketing
of products like tobacco, and campaigns that make it seem glamorous.

We have learned that slick marketing images that ran through previous
decades did not just influence adults. The Marlboro Man and images
like it captured the imagination of kids, romanticizing smoking for
another generation.

It is important governments continue to rely on this experience as the
country rolls out the legalization of cannabis.

A 60-day public consultation period is underway. The federal
government is gathering feedback on regulations for marketing and
advertising of legalized marijuana.

Of course, the cannabis industry wants some latitude when it comes to
selling its product.

As currently laid out, Health Canada has appropriately limiting rules.
Cannabis and accessories can't be promoted in national or
international publications or broadcasts. Ads can't use characters,
testimonials or anything that would associate legalized marijuana with
"glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring." Contests,
lotteries and the like can't be used.

The government should keep these strict guidelines in place, and also
must ensure packaging is extremely plain and will not act as an
enticement to potential young users.

Some industry representatives say it's unfair to compare cannabis and
tobacco, arguing that smoking tobacco is much more harmful to people's

But as an addictions researcher pointed out to the Ottawa Citizen last
week, the developing brains of people under the age of 25 can be
damaged by regular use of marijuana. Users can develop a dependency,
and toxins and cancer-causing chemicals are absorbed when smoking pot.

David Hammond, a scientist at the University of Waterloo School of
Public Health and Health Systems, is an expert in health warnings,
product labels and branding for tobacco, food and cannabis.

Hammond recently told the Ottawa Citizen that research has proven
colours and images can be used to target youth.

"The sort of imagery that appeals to a 19-year-old legal established
user - surprise - it also appeals to a 14-year-old non-user," Hammond
said in response to proposed industry coalition guidelines that would
"only" promote brands.

Legalizing the use of marijuana has gained support because it would be
a recognition of its widespread use in Canadian society. It's
important that the government does not plan to inadvertently spread
the use of the drug, or especially, encourage its use by more and
younger people.
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