OTTAWA, Dec. 30 /CNW/ - The Health Canada decision to proceed with the implementation of refreshed tobacco package warnings has drawn praise from an organization that has campaigned vigorously over two decades for warnings that accurately reflect the risks of cigarettes. According to the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, the warnings about the extreme risks of tobacco industry products announced today by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq are an important step forward for public health. Tobacco warnings deserve to be hard-hitting given that tobacco products kill one out of two of their long term users.
"The minister has committed the government to precisely the warning reforms that solid research shows will be effective," said Geoffrey Fong, Professor at the University of Waterloo and at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Fong is an expert who has completed research on tobacco warnings in 20 countries. "Larger, more graphic, more emotive warnings work. And if these messages are strengthened by moving testimonials and support for smokers via a toll-free telephone smoking cessation service, they will have a very substantial positive health impact."
"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."
"The new warnings promised today will once again position Canada as a global leader in tobacco control," said University of Waterloo Professor David Hammond, a former advisor on tobacco warnings to the World Health Organization. "Despite claims by the tobacco industry, warnings that are larger and that trigger a strong emotional response are extremely effective. And the larger the warnings, the less opportunity for tobacco manufacturers to use creative design to detract from the warnings and to increase the appeal of their products to young people."
"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."
The Non-Smokers' Rights Association is a national health organization that was at the forefront of campaigns for Canada's two world precedent-setting tobacco package warning systems introduced in 1994 and 2000. The Association's Garfield Mahood is the author of an expert report on warnings prepared for the World Health Organization.
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Garfield Mahood, OC
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