Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Report gets council's consent

Cigarette warning labels get graphic

Millennium money worries student group

Hockey funds score harsh critique

Mayor gives positive prognosis

Networks gain $13 million from feds

The flu blues


Bass Ackwards

Cigarette warning labels get graphic

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

Health Minister Allan Rock revealed new cigarette packaging Wednesday that has the government and the tobacco industry butting heads.

The new warnings, which depict pictures of smoking related diseases, would be put on 50 per cent of all cigarette packaging, said Lynn Lasage, spokesperson for Health Canada. She said the proposed regulations would undergo a three month comment period first. "We expect the regulations to come into play by the end of the year," Lasage said.

"Forty-five thousand people in Canada die from smoking tobacco products [yearly]," she said, explaining why the Ministry has launched its new strategy. Lasage added the packages have been tested and proven effective.

Marie-Josee Lapointe, VP-communications with the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council, said she disagreed. "[The packages] are shock value. The more risky you seem to portray smoking, the more appealing it is to kids."

Lapointe said 93 per cent of smokers are aware of the negative effects. "Although they are aware of health risks, they choose to ignore them because they are not immediate."

She said the warnings would force companies to decrease their trademark size. "Fifty per cent is expropriation of trademarks – which is illegal."

Still, Lasage said the Ministry was within the law. "The Supreme Court of Canada has given us guidelines on what we can and cannot do," she said.

David Sweanor, counsel for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, said he believed the packaging would be effective. Many smokers are not fully aware of the risks, he said.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, also believed the campaign would work. "Different warnings will have different impacts on different people. These messages will be very difficult to ignore."

Smoker and second-year social sciences student Jordanna Nash, said she had doubts about the effectiveness of the proposed packaging. "I can't see it being more effective than the [present] warnings."

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