British Columbia – Three of Canada's largest tobacco companies have agreed to stop marketing cigarettes as "light" or "mild", regulators said on Thursday.
The Competition Bureau said Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc. and JTI-Macdonald Corp. will voluntarily stop using the phrases on cigarette packages before being forced to do so by regulation.
Anti-smoking activists argue that cigarette makers describe their products as "light" and "mild" to make them appear less dangerous. Use of those terms has already been eliminated from marketing in Australia and the European Union.
The issue is the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the United States by smokers who allege they were misled by the marketing labels.
The agreement will affect 79 brands of cigarettes and 18 varieties of fine-cut tobacco, the Competition Bureau said.
The companies agreed to start phasing out use of the phrases at the end of the year, and they will be completely gone from the packaging by August 2007.
Imperial Tobacco Canada is a unit of British American Tobacco Plc , Rothmans Benson and Hedges is a unit of Altria Group Inc, and JTI-Macdonald is owned by Japan Tobacco Inc.