Canadian Cancer Society praises federal consultation on tobacco plain packaging

TORONTO, May 31, 2016 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society commends Minister of Health Jane Philpott for launching a formal consultation toward implementing tobacco plain packaging in Canada. The consultation document, announced today on World No Tobacco Day, provides a detailed outline of how plain packaging may be required in Canadian regulations.

"Plain packaging is highly effective and is supported by extensive research," says Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. "If plain packaging were not effective, then tobacco companies would not be so strongly opposed to it. It is precisely because plain packaging will reduce sales that tobacco companies are objecting so loudly."

"It is encouraging that the government is looking not only to eliminate tobacco-company promotion on packages, but also to standardize the shape of the package and to ban slim cigarettes," says Cunningham. "Slim and superslim cigarettes target young women and associate smoking with weight loss, sophistication and glamour."

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Among women alone, the number of lung cancer deaths is double the number of breast cancer deaths. Smoking kills 37,000 Canadians every year. The 2014 Canadian Community Health Survey found that 18% of Canadians (more than 5 million people) are smokers.

"Plain packaging is a key tobacco control measure to advance public health in Canada," says Cunningham. "Today's announcement of a formal consultation brings us closer to the day when plain packaging will be in effect to protect youth."

"Tobacco companies should not be able to use the package as mini-billboards to promote tobacco," adds Cunningham. "Tobacco is a highly addictive, lethal product and should not be sold in packages made to be more attractive. It is essential to provide protection from tobacco-industry marketing tactics, especially for children."  A growing number of other countries are requiring plain packaging, which will make it easier for Canada to do so. The international trend is very positive.

What are other countries doing?

Plain packaging was required in Australia in 2012, implemented in the UK and France as of May 20, 2016, will be implemented soon in Ireland and is under formal consideration in New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Slovenia and other countries.

What is plain packaging?

Plain packaging prohibits brand colours, logos and graphics on tobacco packages. Graphic health warnings and pictures still appear, but the rest of the package is a standard colour for all brands, such as the drab brown required in Australia. Package dimensions are standardized, eliminating slim and superslim packs as well as other attractive package formats recently introduced by tobacco companies.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)



For further information: Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society, 613-565-2522 ext 4981, rcunning@cancer.ca

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