Press Release

A healthy start to the New Year

Physicians applaud announcement of improved federal regulations to benefit smokers

(Ottawa – December 30, 2010)  

(Ottawa) – Canadian health groups today welcomed the announcement by the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq of forthcoming new regulations on cigarette labelling.

“The suite of measures announced today by the federal Minister of Health will provide smokers with better and more information, and will help them receive the help they deserve when they are ready to take the important step of quitting,” said Dr. Atul Kapur, president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC). “They will also help prevent the spread of tobacco addiction to new generations. This is a significant step forward for public health and for consumer health protection.”

Dr. Kapur was responding to the announcement by the federal Minister of Health that new regulations on cigarettes and little cigars would be introduced to increase the size of health warning messages, to expand the content of warning messages, to improve information on toxic constituents from tobacco smoke, to expand information inside cigarette packages, to provide links to free web-based and telephone cessation services and to reinforce information from new labelling regulations with social marketing.

“Each of these six areas of labelling reform will help smokers,” explained Dr. Kapur. “Increasing the size of the warning to 75% of the front and the back of the package will help smokers by expanding health information and reducing promotional tobacco branding,” he said.  “In addition, smokers will receive information in more interesting, persuasive and memorable ways.”

“The use of colourful and encouraging messages inside the package is a third improvement to tobacco labelling that will increase smokers’ confidence in their ability to quit and their knowledge of how to do so successfully.”

Other reforms announced today included the redesign of the side-panel information on toxic constituents like ‘tar’ or nicotine. “Tobacco companies’ efforts to falsely suggest that some brands are less harmful than others will be significantly curtailed by these changes,” said Dr. Kapur.

“Smokers will particularly benefit from the innovative approach taken by this government to coordinate federal regulations with programs supported by various health ministries,” said Dr. Kapur. Tobacco companies will be required to print information on each package to inform smokers where they can access services offered in their own province or community through a single telephone number or web-portal. Parallel efforts using social media will provide smokers with information targeted to their   differing circumstances. “These innovations should be seen as a model for approaches to other consumer health issues,” he recommended.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada is appealing to all sectors of Canadian society to support the rapid implementation of the proposed regulations.  “These measures, once in place, will improve the health, length of life and quality of life for many Canadians,” predicted Dr. Kapur.

Atul Kapur, MD, MSc., FRCPC, FACEP,
Assistant professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa
Emergency Physician, the Ottawa Hospital
President, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
613 233 4878.  (cell) 613 600 5794