Bob Gee, right, pictured with his son Jeff. - Jennifer Hoegg
It will be more than a month before the court case of a Kentville tobacco storeowner’s constitutional challenge resumes.
Mader’s Tobacco owner Bob Gee was charged in 2009 with violating Nova Scotia’s Tobacco Storage Act by improperly storing tobacco products in his store. He is arguing provincial regulations on in store displays are a violation of his rights to freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
There have been a number of delays in the case and now there’s another with a request from the Crown to adjourn until late January.
During the third day of hearings Dec. 6, the court heard evidence of a defence expert witness Dr. Gordon Fullerton on marketing.
Fullerton, a professor at Saint Mary’s University, testified there was no evidence that the display ban introduced in 2007 has reduced smoking rates. The overall tobacco control strategy, he said, has been effective in cutting the percentage of smokers from 30 to 20 per cent before 2007.
During a recess, Robert Cunningham, lawyer and senior policy analyst with the
Canadian Cancer Society, disputed Fullerton’s conclusions saying they were “inconsistent with the totality of the evidence.”
While “it is difficult to quantify the impact of a particular measure,” he said, “the consensus is that there is overwhelming evidence in terms of the research studies and the experiences and, in fact, internal documents from tobacco companies that there is an impact.”
Cunningham added that the Cancer Society “places a very high importance” on the legislation being challenged.
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“From a public health point of view, we believe that it’s essential that this legislation remain constitutional. If this legislation were to become invalidated it would have an adverse impact in terms of our further progress to reduce smoking.”
After Fullerton’s testimony, Crown prosecutor Edward Gore asked for an adjournment to allow time to review the witness’ report, which he received the day before, ahead of cross-examination.
Judge Claudine MacDonald granted an adjournment until Jan. 25, 2013, in Windsor provincial court.
This leaves the Kentville businessman waiting – again.
“I’m disappointed, to say the least,” Gee said after the hearing wrapped up. “But, at the same time, I realize it’s a big case. A lot bigger than I ever dreamt of.”
For more on the this week's hearings, see: Day 1