National Post (Latest Edition)
Minister likes ‘bold’ warnings on cigarettes
MONTREAL • The federal health minister says she’s in favour of putting health warnings directly on individual cigarettes in what she calls a “bold” idea.“
The proposed measure is being studied by Health Department officials, Ginette Petitpas Taylor said Thursday as she announced Canada’s tobacco strategy.
“Some people have suggested the idea of putting a warning on individual cigarettes and using what we call sliding shell,” she told the Tobacco Control Forum on World No Tobacco Day.
“I have to tell you these ideas are being studied and I also have to tell you I really like them. They are quite bold.”
Petitpas Taylor said she expects plain packaging for cigarettes to become reality by the end of the year after Bill S-5 received royal assent last week.
The new packaging rules for tobacco products prohibit promotional information, branding and logos, and were firmly opposed by Big Tobacco.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Rob Cunningham welcomed the minister’s comments on the individual warnings.
“The tobacco companies place the brand name and logos on the cigarette themselves, it’s a very good way to communicate with consumers,” Cunningham said.
“Under plain packaging, they will no longer be able to have that, so it is a great idea to have a health warning.”
It could be as simple as a word like “cancer” or “emphysema” on a cigarette, Cunningham said.
“There are 27 billion cigarettes sold (every year) in Canada,” he added. “If we can have a health warning on each of those, it’s going to inform consumers, it’s going to create public discussion, it’s going to make the product less appealing and it’ll help fight contraband because it will have a unique marking on cigarettes legitimately sold in Canada.”
The strategy unveiled Thursday aims to reduce the number of smokers from about 15 per cent of the population to about five per cent or less by 2035.
An estimated four million Canadians still smoke and about 45,000 die each year from tobacco use.
Petitpas Taylor says $80.5 million set aside in the last federal budget will be added to the existing investment, bringing the total to about $330 million over five years.
She says that money will help fund investments to protect youth, increase scientific research, fund nongovernment organizations and help curb smoking in Indigenous communities, where rates are considerably higher.