Canadian health group reacts to Australia plain-cigarette-package law

David Bellm

January 29, 2014

2 Min Read
Canadian health group reacts to Australia plain-cigarette-package law
Cigarette package

The health organization Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has issued the following statement:

"We are thrilled that a respected country such as Australia understands that the tobacco package is a critical source of tobacco advertising and is ending the tobacco companies' use of packaging to recruit youth to a life of tobacco addiction," said Garfield Mahood, Executive Director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "At the same time, we are profoundly frustrated that the Canadian government, the first to study plain packaging, could have moved ahead with plain packaging sixteen years ago on the basis of the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Health and the significant body of research amassed at the time in support of the reform," explained Mahood.

"Where Australia is closing a major loophole on its tobacco advertising ban, Canada is standing still," said Cynthia Callard, Executive Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. In markets such as Australia and Canada, where traditional forms of advertising are prohibited, the tobacco package itself has become the most important vehicle by which tobacco companies sell their products. Tobacco companies use logos and slogans and manipulate the size, shape, and colouring of tobacco packages to create positive impressions of their brands and to downplay the extensive health risks of tobacco use. Therefore, to be effective any plain packaging reform must include standardized packaging.

"Today's plain packaging announcement by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd demonstrates that the Australian government puts the health of its citizens ahead of the interests of multinational tobacco companies. It is indeed a red letter day for the health of Australians," said Melodie Tilson, Director of Policy with the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "The question we have for the Harper government is quite simple," stated Tilson. "Don't Canadian kids deserve the same protection from the marketing ploys of tobacco companies as Australian youth?"

Plain packaging has been endorsed by the 168 countries that have ratified the global public health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, including Australia and Canada. After reviewing research showing that plain packaging reduces the 'cool' factor of cigarettes for kids and strengthens the impact of health warning messages, Parties unanimously recommended that "the effect of advertising or promotion on packaging can be eliminated if plain packaging is required."

"Some of the pioneering research on plain packaging was led by Health Canada," said Cynthia Callard. Recent research commissioned by Health Canada confirms that young Canadians report that plain packaging would increase the effectiveness of health warnings to them and would reduce tobacco use by young people.

Despite threats by tobacco manufacturers, legal scholars report that there are no legal barriers to the introduction of plain and standardized packaging in Canada.

Canadian health groups are calling on the federal government to move quickly to require that all tobacco products in Canada be sold in plain and standardized packages.

SOURCE: Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada


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