Cigarettes whisked out of sight

Mon Jun 9, 2008 2:43pm EDT
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By Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO (Reuters) - You can browse the latest porn magazines at Canadian shops, but tough new laws mean that cigarette packages are simply too suggestive.

Shop owners in Ontario, Quebec and a few other provinces must now hide tobacco products from their customers under rules that will cover most of Canada by year-end as the country tries to stamp out smoking by young people.

The provincial governments want to discourage the habit by "de-normalizing" the presence of cigarettes, which typically enjoyed prime placement behind the cash register.

Retailers must store cigarettes in drawers or behind grey wall coverings that cost as much as C$1,000 ($980), leaving some fuming over the cost, inconvenience, and hypocrisy.

"It's a pain in the ass, and a double-standard that the government supports liquor sales," said a Toronto shop owner who did not want to be named, but who noted children too young to buy pornography are still free to eye the plastic-covered magazines, which are only partly hidden by their shelving.

"It's kind of like a nanny state."

The law has its critics, including those who point accusingly at Ontario's provincially owned liquor stores. But advocates say the seemingly draconian measure will eventually work, and is too important to get bogged down by morality.

"Pornography, with all its faults and deficits, won't kill you," said Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for   Continued...

<p>A pack of Canadian cigarettes with a warning label is seen in Montreal, June 28, 2007. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>