New cigarette warning labels should not be abandoned: editorial - Macleans.ca

New cigarette warning labels should not be abandoned: editorial

Health Canada’s tobacco policy change is unwise, says CMAJ

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Is the government caving to the tobacco industry? An editorial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal takes the federal government to task for its decision to focus on fighting contraband cigarettes instead of carrying out a plan to put larger, more graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and enforcing the display of a toll-free number for quitting smoking. The abandonment of the latter plan, the CMAJ suggests, should come with some sort of explanation from Health Canada—who made the announcement in a closed-door meeting with provincial and territorial representatives. In the absence of an explanation, the CMAJ speculates that the tobacco industry lobbied hard against the new labels, which could threaten their bottom line, and the government refocused its efforts as a result. Or, perhaps the policy shift is yet another example of Harper’s government ignoring public health to focus on his law-and-order agenda. Either way, the CMAJ argues that fresh labels are necessary—the current labels have remained unchanged for a decade, and as such the effectiveness of those deterrents has decreased over time.

CMAJ [PDF]

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