Deadline approaches for new health warnings on cigarette packs

Stores must sell only packages with larger health warnings as of June 19, 2012

OTTAWA, June 11, 2012 /CNW/ - The health warnings that smokers have seen on their cigarette packs for more than a decade will soon be history.

New, larger health warning messages—announced by Health Canada last September—have been phased into stores throughout the spring. As of June 19, retailers may only sell cigarettes and little cigars in packaging that displays the new health warnings.

The warning labels are more noticeable, covering 75 per cent of the front and back of packages, up from 50 per cent previously.

Some include messages from fellow Canadians whose lives and health have been negatively affected by tobacco use, such as Barb Tarbox of Alberta.

Ms. Tarbox, who died in 2003 from lung cancer caused by years of smoking, allowed a photographer to document the final days of her life. Two of these powerful photos were selected for the new health warnings. "Look at the power of the cigarette," one message reads. "Remember this face and that smoking killed me."

There are also new warnings about diseases recently linked to smoking and information, on the inside of packs, about the benefits of quitting.

Each health warning also includes a toll-free quitline number (1-866-366-3667) and web address (www.gosmokefree.gc.ca/quit) to connect users to free counselling and other quit smoking resources—a first for tobacco health warnings in Canada.

"I am pleased that these labels will put new, updated health warnings and information into the hands of millions of smokers," said Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "This initiative will help to increase awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use and the benefits of quitting."

Canada was the first country in the world to require graphic health warnings on tobacco packages, in 2000. Those warnings have played a role in reducing tobacco use, as well as smoking rates - which declined from 24 per cent of the population aged 15 and over in 2000 to an all-time low of 17 per cent in 2010.

More information about the new health warnings and related labels can be found at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/tobacco-labels.

SOURCE Health Canada

For further information:

Note to Editors: Accompanying digital image available upon request. Please contact Health Canada Media Relations at 613-957-2983.

Media Enquiries:
Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

Public Enquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709


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