Ottawa – September 27, 2011
New health labels for cigarettes finalized
Doctors group calls for measures to expand and protect health regulations.
PSC welcomes today the announcement by the Minister of Health, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, that the labelling regulations approved unanimously by the House of Commons last June will be published in the Canada Gazette this week.
"Beginning next spring, the warning messages on cigarettes sold in Canada will be bigger, bolder and more powerful," said Cynthia Callard, Executive Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "The information on the redesigned health labelling will give Canadians better information and more effective support when they want to quit."
PSC is encouraging Health Canada to accelerate other package reforms that were not included in this regulatory round. "There are many tobacco products on which health warnings are not yet required, or on which graphic warnings are not yet required," explained Ms. Callard. "As a result, many Canadians underestimate the harmfulness of products such as cigars, shisha tobacco, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco."
PSC is also recommending that further measures be put in place to protect the new health warnings from being undermined by tobacco companies. "Already the companies have redesigned the packaging of their major brands in order to blunt the impact of these new regulations," explained Callard. BAT has, for example, has added colours to du Maurier packaging to replace the 'tar and nicotine values' that will be removed from the packages as a result of these new regulations and JTI-MacDonald has redesigned its Export A brand so that the new interior health messages can be thrown away instead of being permanently affixed to the package.
"The most obvious health response is for Health Canada to regulate cigarette package standards to remove the temptation for industry to try to diminish the effectiveness of these labels," said Callard. "Another appropriate response would be to follow Australia's lead and legislate plain packaging."
PSC expressed its appreciation for the support of the many Canadians who had contributed to the development of the new regulations. "This type of pioneering effort reflects the determination, creativity and dedication of Canadians working together in the public interest," said Callard. "This important advance was made possible by the commitment of public servants, legislators, civil society and the media to improve the health and well-being of Canadians."
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Cynthia Callard, Executive Director, 613 233 4878