Canadian Cancer Society applauds Health Canada’s release of new cigarette package warnings

18 February 2011

Ottawa -

Today, Health Canada released a set of new picture health warnings for cigarette and little cigar packages. The new labels include 16 warnings that will cover 75 per cent of the package front and back, eight additional messages to be printed inside the package (or on an insert), and four toxic emission messages for the side panel.

On December 30, 2010, Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq announced the federal government’s plans for new warnings, and released four of 16 picture-based messages. One of the warnings featured an image of the late Barb Tarbox, who died of lung cancer. The remaining warning images have now been released, including a second warning featuring Barb Tarbox.

“Health Minister Aglukkaq deserves strong praise for moving forward on this major public health initiative,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “In introducing the new set of larger, enhanced warnings, the government is demonstrating world leadership.”

“A picture says a thousand words,” adds Cunningham. “These picture warnings will help tell the truth about tobacco products, and contribute to reductions in both smoking and cancer.”

The enhanced package warning system for cigarettes and little cigars includes:

  • A set of 16 new package health warnings, with an increase in warning size from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of the package, front and back.
  • The use of testimonials, notably warnings featuring images of the late Barb Tarbox before she died of lung cancer, as well as Leroy Kehler who speaks through a hole in his throat following cancer of the larynx (voice box).
  • The addition of a toll-free quit line number and a web address to the warning messages. International data show that calls to quit lines increase substantially when a toll-free number is added prominently to the package.
  • For the first time, warnings about certain health effects, e.g. bladder cancer and vision loss, are included.
  • A set of eight new full-colour messages appearing inside the package.
  • An improved set of toxic emission messages that will appear in rotation on the side of the package, to replace the existing message.

Today’s release by Health Canada coincides with the publication in Canada Gazette, Part I of draft amendments to the Tobacco Products Information Regulations. The Society looks forward to participating in the public consultations that will occur as part of the regulatory process.

Tobacco products are the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 37,000 Canadians annually. Tobacco products are responsible for about 30 per cent of cancer deaths and for 85 per cent of lung cancers.

View the new picture warnings

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 www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981