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Canadian Youth Call on Feds to Ban Power Walls

On the steps of Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council, Youth Demand to Take Death Off Display

Ottawa, June 21, 2005-Canadian Youth Against Tobacco (CYAT), consisting of student activists from coast to coast are converging on the steps of the World Exchange Plaza, where Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council resides, today at 12:00 noon. These young Canadians are calling on the federal government to remove tobacco power walls from all stores across the country.

CYAT members, joined together by the 4th National Conference on Tobacco or Health, will draw body outlines around the plaza to represent the 130 people who die each day in Canada from tobacco related illness. The youth will also be asking Ottawa citizens to sign postcards to cover a mock "deadly display."

Power walls are highly visible, bold, colourful, behind-the-counter displays of cigarette packaging, available in convenience stores, grocery stores, and gas bars. Power walls are one of the last forms of tobacco advertising allowed in Canada. Some provinces have already banned these kinds of displays; others are moving to implement similar sanctions. But it is time for a nation-wide movement towards out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

"Tobacco companies spend approximately $88 million dollars on Power Wall advertising, and it is so overwhelming when I go into a store and I see 800 to 900 packs of cigarettes," says Mohamed Saeed, a young Ottawatonian. "It's a visual assault, when all I want is a chocolate bar."

Visual prominence of cigarette packaging inflates perceived popularity and social acceptability of tobacco products and "normalizes" them. The size of tobacco displays in many stores gives a false impression as to how many Canadians actually smoke.

"People would never think of putting up displays of crack or heroin behind store counters, yet advertised in full force is the most addictive drug available," says Jenna Elzeine.

When: June 21, 2005
What: Canadian Youth Against Tobacco (CYAT) street marketing and theatre
Where: World Exchange Plaza
Who: CYAT members and YOU! (That includes media!)
Why: Canadian Youth want Tobacco Manufacturers and the Federal Government to know it is time to ban Power Walls

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