August 15, 2010 - Health Canada's has delayed plans to force tobacco companies to increase the size of health warnings to cover most of the surface of cigarette packages.
Canada in 2001 became the first country to introduce pictorial warnings warnings on tobacco packages. We reported in September 2009 that approximately nine years later Health Canada is in the process of revising these health warnings. See news brief: Graphic Warnings cigarette packs: Canada revising warnings, U.S. pictorial warnings within 4-years..Health Canada shared mock-ups of supersized new warning labels with public-health advocates more than a year ago — with regulations that were expected to be tabled in January 2010 to increase the warning size from their current 50 per cent to at least 70 per cent of the package's surface.
Health Canada settled on bigger warnings and updated visuals after its own public-opinion research showed many smokers had dulled to the government's graphic messages covering half the panel on cigarette packs, introduced in Canada in 2000 as an international first. Independent research pointed to the same trend, showing a decline in salience of warning labels in Canada over time.
Rob Cunningham, a tobacco control specialist at the Canadian Cancer Society, "The government's been working on this for years now and there has been some very unfortunate and inexplicable delays in a new round of cigarette packaging warnings."
In a statement to Postmedia News, Health Canada said the department "continues to examine this issue" and "to review public-opinion research on the effectiveness of health-warning messages. "The findings from this research will help Health Canada have messages that will be noticed and effective for all Canadians."
Reference: Feds slow to cough up new rules for cigarette warnings by Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News - MontrealGazette.com, 8/12/2010.