OTTAWA, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said on Thursday that Canada intended to launch updated, larger health warning messages and a toll-free quitline on cigarette and little cigar packages that will be the backbone of a social marketing campaign to encourage smokers to quit.
Key features of the new label requirements include new larger graphic health warnings, a pan-Canadian quitline and web URL, and improved health information messages and toxic emission statements.
The new, larger graphic health warnings will feature new diseases and, for the first time, testimonials from individuals affected by tobacco use. The warnings will cover 75 percent of the front and back of cigarette and little cigar packages, up from the current 50 percent.
Provisional on provincial and territorial agreement, the pan-Canadian quitline and web URL will enable the smokers a seamless connection to provincial and territorial phone cessation support services.
The addition of color and graphics to health information messages will make them more noticeable, while new toxic emission statements will be easier to understand.
Apart from to the labelling changes, Health Canada is developing a social marketing campaign targeting smokers, including young adults. Multimedia, including social networks across the Web, will be used to reach teenagers and young adults.
“The combination of larger health warning messages and social marketing will help the new messages reach as many smokers as possible,” said Aglukkaq.
“Giving Canadians the straight-up goods on the dangers of tobacco use in a more prominent and visible way through larger, more effective tobacco warning labels is a significant step in our ongoing battle to reduce tobacco consumption and, ultimately, cardiovascular disease,” said Irfhan Rawji, chair of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Tobacco use costs the Canadian health care systems 4.4 billion Canadian dollars (about 4.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in direct costs and continues to kill 37,000 Canadians every year.