Fossil Fuel Advertising is Fuelling a Public Health Crisis: An Open Letter from Health Professionals in Canada

June 8, 2022

We are writing to you because of our deep concern about the health impacts people are experiencing as a result of carbon pollution. We stand with over 700,000 health professionals in sharing a strong conviction of the need for limits on advertising of fossil fuels products and industries to address this public health crisis. 

The burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – is the major driver of climate change and the biggest contributor to poor air quality. Climate change and air pollution are interconnected urgent public health emergencies, negatively affecting the physical health, quality of life, mental health, and longevity of people in Canada. As a new Health Canada report affirms, the health impacts of climate change related to rising temperatures and extreme heat, wildfires, and the expansion of zoonotic diseases into Canada are not just future concerns, but impacts already being experienced today. These impacts were exemplified by the nearly 600 people who lost their lives and many more who suffered from the climate change-fuelled heat dome and catastrophic flooding in British Columbia last year. 

Given the scale of the health impacts already being felt, we urge the federal government to approach fossil fuel production and combustion with the same resolve, and the same tools, that were used to combat another public health crisis: the fight against tobacco. We urge the government to limit fossil fuel advertising in the same way that tobacco advertising is limited.

Fossil fuel marketing and promotion is harmful to human and planetary health in three key ways:

  1. Fossil fuel advertising creates demand for carbon intensive goods and services for which climate policies have clearly committed to curbing demand.
  2. Fossil fuel misinformation obstructs climate action.
  3. Fossil fuel advertising fails to disclose known health and environmental hazards. 

With public and planetary health as our utmost priority, and drawing on the success of tobacco regulation, we call for:

  • A comprehensive ban on advertising by fossil fuel industries, products, and services (such as gasoline and gas utilities) and internal combustion engine vehicles. 
  • A robust regulatory response to address misleading environmental claims by fossil fuel companies.
  • Regulations mandating the disclosure of the health and environmental risks associated with fossil fuel production and use.

Read the full letter here

To:
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health
The Honourable Francois-Phillipe Champagne, P.C., M.P., Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

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Health Organization Signatories
Association Pour la Santé Publique du Québec
Asthma Canada
BC Hospital Employees’ Union
Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment
Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology
Canadian Association of Pathologists Environment National Specialty Network
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Federation of Medical Students’ Health and Environment Adaptive Response Task Force
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Canadian Health Association for Sustainability and Equity
Children’s Environmental Health Clinic
Children’s Healthcare Canada
College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dewdney Medical Group
Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health – Kootenay-Boundary
Doctors for Planetary Health – West Coast
Doctors of B.C.
Faculty of Medicine, Laval University
International Federation of Medical Students’ Association – Québec
MD Moms for Healthy Recovery
Naturopathic Doctors for Environmental and Social Trust
Nurses And Doctors for Planetary Health, Victoria BC
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE
Ontario Nurses’ Association
Ontario Public Health Association
Pediatric Chairs of Canada
Public Health Association of BC
Quebec College of Family Physicians
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
Réseau d’action pour la santé durable du Québec
Ridge Meadows Section of General Practice
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Synergie Santé Environnement
XR santé Québec

Other Organization Signatories
Artists for Real Climate Action
Climate Emergency Unit
David Suzuki Foundation
Equiterre
Pour Nos Enfants / For Our Kids Montréal
Stand.Earth
Upcycle the Gyres
Youth Climate Lab

June 8, 2022

We are writing to you because of our deep concern about the health impacts people are experiencing as a result of carbon pollution. We stand with over 700,000 health professionals in sharing a strong conviction of the need for limits on advertising of fossil fuels products and industries to address this public health crisis. 

The burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – is the major driver of climate change and the biggest contributor to poor air quality. Climate change and air pollution are interconnected urgent public health emergencies, negatively affecting the physical health, quality of life, mental health, and longevity of people in Canada. As a new Health Canada report affirms, the health impacts of climate change related to rising temperatures and extreme heat, wildfires, and the expansion of zoonotic diseases into Canada are not just future concerns, but impacts already being experienced today. These impacts were exemplified by the nearly 600 people who lost their lives and many more who suffered from the climate change-fuelled heat dome and catastrophic flooding in British Columbia last year. 

Given the scale of the health impacts already being felt, we urge the federal government to approach fossil fuel production and combustion with the same resolve, and the same tools, that were used to combat another public health crisis: the fight against tobacco. We urge the government to limit fossil fuel advertising in the same way that tobacco advertising is limited.

Fossil fuel marketing and promotion is harmful to human and planetary health in three key ways:

  1. Fossil fuel advertising creates demand for carbon intensive goods and services for which climate policies have clearly committed to curbing demand.
  2. Fossil fuel misinformation obstructs climate action.
  3. Fossil fuel advertising fails to disclose known health and environmental hazards. 

With public and planetary health as our utmost priority, and drawing on the success of tobacco regulation, we call for:

  • A comprehensive ban on advertising by fossil fuel industries, products, and services (such as gasoline and gas utilities) and internal combustion engine vehicles. 
  • A robust regulatory response to address misleading environmental claims by fossil fuel companies.
  • Regulations mandating the disclosure of the health and environmental risks associated with fossil fuel production and use.

Read the full letter here