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Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 05:20 GMT
Shock treatment for Canada's smokers
Time to take serious action in Canada
Canada is planning to introduce the world's strictest anti-smoking health warnings with graphic images on cigarette packets of human organs affected by smoking-related diseases.


When smokers open up their packets, they will also find information on how to give up printed on the inside

BBC's Rob Corbett
The warnings will include photographs of cancerous lungs, diseased hearts and brains that have suffered strokes.

"It is time to take serious action to counter the problem of smoking" said Health Minister Alan Rock, who has spent a year studying the matter.

The new warnings, in both English and French, will take up 50% of the front and the back of the packets.

Smoking is already banned in most public spaces
Another message is put across with a picture of a drooping "phallic" cigarette - to show the relationship between smoking and impotence.

Strong message

The announcement is being applauded by Canadian health promotion organisations, but the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council says the effectiveness of the campaign is doubtful.

It is the first time anywhere that graphic images have been required on cigarette packets to discourage smokers.

"Showing a picture of a brain that's been destroyed is a much stronger way of getting the message across," said Cynthia Callard of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

Manufacturers' representative Robert Parker is reported to have said the tobacco industry has been left out of consultation on the warning plans.

Still want to smoke? A cancerous lung (Chiba Univ)
He expressed concern about the practicality of reproducing the images on packaging.

When smokers open up their packets, they will also find information on how to give up printed on the inside.

The anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said large, explicit and graphic tobacco health warnings should be adopted by the European Union.

Clive Bates, ASH director, said: "The warnings may shock some people, but they tell the truth about smoking.

"If people are going to make an informed choice then they need the facts."

The smokers' rights group FOREST says, however, that the Canadian government is wrong to pick on smokers.

The organisation's campaigns director Martin Ball said: "This is completely over the top and will have no impact on the number of people smoking.

"It may actually encourage smokers, particularly teenagers, to collect the packets.

"Once again smokers are being singled out for special measures designed to belittle their lifestyle. Why not have images of rotting teeth on sweet packets, or clogged-up arteries on cake boxes."

Smoking is prohibited in most public areas in Canada, such as government buildings, and some regions ban smoking from bars and restaurants.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Smoking
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See also:

20 Jan 00 | Health
19 Nov 99 | Medical notes
05 Jan 00 | Health
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