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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Mychoice.ca is a nonprofit Canadian smokers' rights group that operates with funding from Imperial Tobacco Canada, while claiming to be independent of the company and not represent it or its interests. The Association claims to represent 45,000 members who have registered since its inception in September 2004.
The association claims not promote smoking or oppose public smoking bans it considers "reasonable." It claims it does not call for a return to the "smoke-anywhere" days.
It claims to promote mutual respect for the rights and choices of smokers and non-smokers, and oppose laws that deny smokers a choice of venues where they can go to smoke without bothering others.
It also opposes attempts to ban smoking outdoors, in private cars and homes. It campaigns for the fair treatment of seniors in nursing homes and against efforts to discriminate against smokers in terms of health care, accommodation and employment.
The association was launched, and continues to exist, because governments and the public health lobby that it funds with tobacco tax dollars refuse smokers the right to be included on tobacco control advisory groups or attend tobacco control conferences. Mychoice.ca claims that "smokers are systematically denied any voice or say in the passing of laws against them, or in the creation of policies designed to encourage them to quit smoking, even though they know better than anyone what works and does not work."
Mychoice.ca operates on the premise that smokers have the right to have a voice and to provide input into the laws that affect them. It believes that the vast majority of Canadians agree with this democratic principal.
The association is open to Canadians 19 and older and is not affiliated with any US association or company. Approximately 10 per cent of its members are non-smokers who oppose the use of overly intrusive laws and undemocratic policy setting processes, and who believe in a fair balance of rights and freedoms for all.
It does speak out for members on the issue of high cigarette taxes.
Mychoice.ca/Monchoix.ca speaks out against youth smoking and provides links and forums for those who wish to quit smoking. Roughly one third of its members say they want to quit, and the association pursues the issue of financial assistance for these members. It believes that governments should use some of the $9 billion a year they collect in the form of tobacco taxes for this purpose. These audited tobacco tax revenues (2006) are $5 billion more than Health Canada's estimate of the cost of smoking-related illnesses to the Health Care system.
The association’s website provides studies and reports, news, resource materials, media products and other information of importance to smokers regarding their rights and their treatment by government. It also proves message board forums where members can share experiences and ideas.
Mychoice.ca is open about its funding from Imperial Tobacco Canada.
Mychoice.ca does not collaborate with, or promote or defend the products produced by Imperial Tobacco Canada or any other tobacco company.
For more information, visit: Mychoice.ca, "About us", accessed December 2007.</ref>