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Advertising: it's time to apply the anti-smoking playbook to polluting vehicles

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Montreal, June 11 2024 - Équiterre has published a new report analyzing possible avenues for regulating the advertising, sale and use of polluting vehicles, inspired by the successful approach used to regulate the consumption of tobacco products.

The sale of new gas-powered vehicles will be banned by 2035. Équiterre is therefore calling for the advertising of these vehicles - an environmental and public health problem - to be regulated, as was done with cigarettes to manage another public health problem.

Our report points to regulation as the next logical step to reverse current trends and to ensure consistency with other actions that are being taken to decarbonize our transportation sector and to develop sustainable mobility.

“Regulating advertising is low hanging fruit.”

-Anne Catherine Pilon, Équiterre’s Sustainable Mobility Analyst

In a poll conducted by Léger for Équiterre last September, a majority of Quebecers (58%) said they were in favour of stricter controls on the advertising of light-duty trucks, which includes SUVs.

Inconsistency with our objectives

“It’s like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. The government’s target is to eliminate the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. It makes no sense to put so much effort into making transport safer, greener and more sustainable if the industry has a free pass to promote the exact opposite. The least we can do is stop promoting what we've chosen to ban,” adds the analyst.

“We know what we need to do. We know it's being done elsewhere. The public is on board. What are we waiting for? We certainly can’t wait for the industry,” concludes Anne-Catherine Pilon.

Here are some of the report's key recommendations:

  • Recognize the rising number of gas-powered vehicles as a public health issue;

  • Create a Canadian code of automobile advertising;

  • Progressively reduce advertising of polluting vehicles;

  • Make it mandatory to display information on safety and environmental impacts, on vehicle prices, including crash test results, quantity of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) emitted per 100 km and vehicle retail price;

  • Include messages promoting sustainable mobility;

  • Ban the visual representation of polluting vehicles at events financed wholly or in part by taxpayer funds.

Équiterre's offices are located on Indigenous lands that have not been ceded by treaty, which we now call Montreal and Quebec City. We recognize that Indigenous peoples have protected their territories since immemorial times and have used their traditional knowledge to guard the lands and waters. We are grateful to live on these lands and are committed to continuing our efforts to protect them. Read more »

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