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Sask. tobacco law upheld

Cigarettes in Saskatchewan stores will be back behind closed doors after the Supreme Court Jan. 19 overturned an appeal court decision that the province’s law conflicted with federal legislation.

The provincial Tobacco Control Act came into effect in March 2002, banning the display and promotion of tobacco products where children could see them. Retailers used everything from wooden cabinets to black plastic garbage bags and shower curtains to cover up their cigarette displays.

Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc. challenged the law in June 2002 and in October 2003 the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decided it conflicted with the federal Tobacco Act.

“The purpose of the tobacco display provisions of our legislation is to denormalize tobacco use so that young people do not grow up viewing smoking as a normal or accepted activity,” said health minister John Nilson in a news release. “Today the highest court in the country agreed that we have authority to legislate in this area.”

Saskatchewan had the support of six other provinces and health groups including the Canadian Cancer Society.

The ruling came during national non-smoking week.

Meanwhile, the province and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations continue to be at odds over whether the law that made Saskatchewan smoke-free in all public places as of Jan. 1, 2005, applies to the Indian-run casinos and other First Nations property.

The White Bear First Nation submitted to the federal government a bylaw that bans smoking in enclosed public places but allows a smoking area in its Bear Claw Casino.

Ottawa could disallow a bylaw request, but the federal Indian and Northern Affairs department said Jan. 18 it would not.

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