Doctor groups push for truth in fossil fuel advertising

On Wednesday, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) sent a letter to the federal government calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising.

In the late 1980s, the federal government banned all cigarette advertisements – photos making a carcinogen attractive went against public health advice. Now, many doctors say the same should apply to fossil fuel advertising.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) sent a letter to the federal government calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising. The group argues that such ads mislead people by sidestepping the health and environmental impacts of coal, oil and gas. Co-signers include the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Doctors of BC and others representing more than half a million healthcare workers across the country. The advocacy group also coordinated the launch of Fossil Fuel Ads Make Us Sick campaign.

Ideally, the ban would end the advertising of products such as gas utilities and gasoline vehicles. CAPE would also like to see disclaimers and regulations regarding any other advertising involving fossil fuels. . A photo of a family around a gas cooker, an SUV driving down a rolling hill, and gas stations touting their carbon-neutral campaigns all fit the misleading and harmful advertising, she said.

“It hides the health hazards of using fossil fuels inside our homes, in vehicles and also the broader climate risks,” Lem said.

“So we just want there to be more truth in advertising. We want consumers to know what the risks are and not be masked.

Lem said health industry players are widely concerned about the effect of fossil fuels on indoor and outdoor air pollution and, therefore, human health. At the same time, advertising allows the fossil fuel industry to whitewash its reputation and encourages people to use more oil and gas. According to a Harvard study, up to 34,000 people die prematurely in Canada each year due to air pollution from fossil fuels. Most of those deaths are believed to be from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancers, Lem said.

She also points to gas cookers, which have 50-400% higher nitrogen dioxide levels than their electric counterparts, leading to higher levels of air pollution in homes and asthma rates. higher in children.

Specifically, the campaign is calling for a ban on advertising by fossil fuel companies, but also for disclaimers on images that show things like gas stoves or gas-guzzling cars.

“First of all, we don’t want this advertising to be allowed. But at the same time, if these images are to be released, they should be accompanied by warnings about the health risks of climate change, the health risks of indoor air pollution from burning fossil fuels “, she said.

Amsterdam became the first city in the world to ban fossil fuel advertising in 2021.

In Canada, the city council of Regina attempted a similar ban, but faced too much opposition and it did not pass. is our “collective responsibility”.

“Fossil fuels affect those who are least able to protect themselves or who have the choice to protect themselves, including those living in poverty and racialized populations who are most likely to live in areas of increased air pollution linked to fossil fuels,” she said.

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