Canada - warning labels on cigarette packs about to get bigger and more graphic..

January 1, 2011 - Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the new warnings will cover three-quarters of the front and back of cigarette packs, up from one-half. The new, graphic messages will include warnings about tobacco-related diseases such as bladder cancer and testimonials from cancer victims. As well there will be a phone number for a quit-smoking hotline.

Ottawa (federal govt) will begin drafting regulations for the new warning labels in early 2011, but has no specific timeline for implementation. Tobacco companies will have a chance to comment during the process and the new rules will be phased in gradually, officials said.

"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 effectiveness of health warnings increases with size - the larger the warnings, the greater the impact," says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society in a statement. "Implementation of the new, larger package warnings will be an important achievement, and will reduce cancer and other tobacco-related diseases in Canada. Moreover, from an international perspective, the new tobacco labelling measures will position Canada as a world leader in this area."

Physicians for a smoke-free Canada: Health warnings with pictures are a very effective way to reduce smoking.

December 14, 2010 - Canada - federal govt will be releasing new warning labels by mid-January..;

December 9, 2010 - Canada - federal govt health minister, "not in bed with big tobacco..";

December 8, 2010 - Canada - millions lost in revamping cigarettes graphic warnings..;

October 28, 2010 - Canada - c-store association applauds move by govt to focus on nation's tobacco contraband problem..;

September 28, 2010 - Canada - Health Canada shelves update of graphic warning messages to concentrate on the problem of contraband tobacco..;

August 15, 2010 - Health Canada - why delay in new round of cigarette pack pictorial warnings??;

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..

Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited said the government was ignoring the larger problem of cigarettes being illegally smuggled into Canada to avoid taxes that are kept high to discourage smoking.

"Three months ago, the Minister of Health said illegal tobacco was her priority. However, she has done nothing to crack down on the illegal trade since then. Instead, she caved into the pressure of a handful of anti-tobacco groups," said Mr. Clayton, vice president, Corporate Affairs at Imperial. "The illegal operators already ignore over 200 rules and regulations, including the existing labeling requirements. This will simply be another law that is ignored -and yet another case of the Government of Canada turning a blind eye to that illegal activity," he added.

Canada - action must be taken to control the illicit cigarette problem..

References: Canada to put bigger health warnings on cigarettes by Louise Egan, (Additional reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson), Reuters, 12/31/2010; New cigarette packaging in Canada highlights warnings by KJ Mullins,, 12/30/2010; CANADA'S HEALTH MINISTER CHOOSES TO IGNORE TODAY'S REAL TOBACCO PROBLEM Impérial Tobacco Canada asks the Minister where the proposed health warnings will be on the illégal "baggies", Imperial Tobacco Canada,, 12/30/2010.