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:
- Fossil fuel advertising creates demand for carbon intensive goods and services for which climate policies have clearly committed to curbing demand.
- Fossil fuel misinformation obstructs climate action.
- 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.
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