The new series of health warnings on cigarette packs have increased in size going from 50 percent of the packaging to 75 percent. These warnings will include graphic images including that of the late Barb Tarbox prior to her death from lung cancer.
"With warning labels, size matters," says Irfhan Rawji, chair of the board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "Giving Canadians the straight-up goods on the dangers of tobacco industry products in a more prominent and visible way is a significant step in the ongoing battle to reduce tobacco consumption."
In Canada 17 percent of those over the age of 15 smoke.
"Warnings that occupy 75 percent of the major faces of the package constitute a huge step toward plain and standardized packaging, a key major tobacco control goal of the national health community," said Melodie Tilson, Non-Smokers' Rights Association Director of Policy. "The health minister deserves praise for deciding to move forward with these reforms."
A toll-free quit line number will also be prominent on the packaging. It has been found that when the number is added prominently to the packaging an increase to quit lines happens.
"Minister Aglukkaq has announced a blockbuster for public health," says Daniel Demers, Director of National Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society said in a statement. "This outstanding package of new measures will increase awareness of tobacco's health effects and will reduce smoking among both youth and adults. The Minister and her department deserve praise for work over several years leading to this announcement. The announcement comes just in time for New Year's and provides a further impetus for the many Canadians who will make a resolution to quit smoking."
The new packaging rules are part of Bill C-32. That bill also bans flavours in little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps, and bans print advertising of tobacco products.
"Because of the millions of smokers in the tobacco market now and the tens of thousands of youngsters who become addicted to cigarettes every year," said Garfield Mahood, Executive Director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, "if the quality of the reforms announced today reflect the balance of the warnings yet to be announced, the renewed and improved warnings will, over time, prevent tens of thousands of tobacco deaths."
According to the Canadian Cancer Society tobacco products are the leading preventable cancer of disease and death in Canada with 37,000 Canadians dying each year. Tobacco products are linked to about 30 percent of cancer deaths and 85 percent of lung cancers.
"The effectiveness of health warnings increases with size - the larger the warnings, the greater the impact," says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society in a statement. "Implementation of the new, larger package warnings will be an important achievement, and will reduce cancer and other tobacco-related diseases in Canada. Moreover, from an international perspective, the new tobacco labelling measures will position Canada as a world leader in this area."