Fests Fume Over Tobacco Ad Ban

Fest directors reacted angrily Dec. 12 to Health Minister Diane Marleau’s plan to introduce a hard-line law that would ban all tobacco ads and make it almost impossible for cigarette manufacturers to sponsor arts and sports.

Canadian arts groups, including the country’s main film fests, will face a major funding crunch if the government goes ahead with plans to restrict tobacco companies’ ability to sponsor cultural events, the fest directors said.

The Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver film festivals all receive significant sponsorship support from Rothmans Ltd. Intl. Film, a subsid of tobacco giant Rothmans Benson & Hedges.

“It’s a major sponsor of all three festivals,” said Jane MacDonald, director of communications at the Vancouver Intl. Film Festival. “It’s vital money to us. It would really be a blow to the cultural scene in the country, and the state of the arts scene is already grim in terms of government support. It’s very disheartening.”

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