Cigarette packages could soon get that much uglier. The federal government has proposed new packaging that could be in effect by 2012 which could include more graphic labels.
Proposed regulations include requiring the display of 16 new graphic health warning messages, eight health information messages, and four toxic emission statements on packages of cigarettes and little cigars.
The new health warning messages would have to cover 75% of the front and back of packages; new health information messages now include use of colour and graphic elements; packages would include easier to understand toxic emissions statements; and a toll free quit line number and web address to give smokers information on quitting smoking.
Dr. Shelley Buchan, Medical Officer of Health for the RHA Central, said changes to cigarette packaging alone would likely have little effect on smokers, but it is an important element of the multi-faceted approach to smoking cessation.
“Trying to reduce the number of people who are smoking it’s a multi-pronged approach. One intervention will not fit every case. Tobacco is addictive and because of that it is very difficult to help people to quit and to prevent people from starting in the first place,” said Buchan.
Buchan said other efforts include placing an age restriction on who can buy cigarettes; educational programs to prevent people from starting in the first place; quitting programs to help people stop smoking; and pricing of cigarettes, because the higher the price the fewer people who smoke.
“Is that going to make a huge difference on the number of smokers, I don’t think it’s going to make a very noticeable impact, however what it will do is it’s part of that overall strategy to have many different angles of helping people either to not start or to quit. It’s trying to address some of those more subtle cues as to why people would maybe pick a certain brand or pick up a package, or how they would display it because of the packaging. To not have it will be limiting too in the overall programming,” said Buchan.
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