FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Can Do Better, Much Better
Canada Has A Long Way To Go In The Fight Against Tobacco
Ottawa June 20, 2005-Canadians are on their way to living longer,
healthier lives thanks to recent major moves by numerous provinces
to go smoke-free. But delegates at the 4th National Conference on
Tobacco or Health learned today that the work is far from complete.
"As the tobacco industry tries to recoup the costs of what
Rothmans predicts to be a 'natural decline of 5.7 per cent in per
capita sales' and even larger if significant tax or other measures
are implemented, Canadians must be strong and fight back,"
said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer
Society. "We can do better, much better!"
For example, taxes on tobacco products are inconsistent across
the country. By filling the gap and increasing taxes on roll-your-own
tobacco to the same level as cartons, and raising taxes to $12 per
carton, tobacco sales are sure to decrease.
Packaging is another element in the battle. Attractive, positive
images on packaging encourage people to smoke. With the promise
of sophistication, social acceptability, status, masculinity, and
conversely, femininity of brands, cigarettes and tobacco products
By removing appealing brand images from packaging, and standardizing
packages with an unattractive colour, the fight against the tobacco
industry will be advanced even further. Package warnings should
be increased from 50 per cent to 80 per cent, and should contain
new, enhanced, and more effective messaging.
Advertising and point-of-purchase signs are another crucial step.
Many provinces are moving towards a ban on power walls: the overwhelming
displays found in convenience stores and gas bars. Tobacco companies
are still allowed to advertise in certain publications, through
direct mail and in some bars. This must also stop.
As Canada expects new nutrition labelling guidelines to come into
effect December 2005, an expansion on the contents of cigarette
labelling should follow suit. Lars Ramström, director of the
Institute for Tobacco Studies in Stockholm suggests making cigarette
labelling more comprehensive, breaking down the contents of cigarettes,
so consumers can make informed decision on the level of harm produced
by their cigarette of choice, including how much tar
and nicotine smokers are inhaling, levels of carbon monoxide, formaldehyde,
hydrogen cyanide, and benzene.
Other measures include: effective enforcement of policy, a single
regulatory framework for nicotine-containing products, an adult
accompaniment rating in those movies that continue to show smoking,
CPP divestment of tobacco stocks, disclosure of industry marketing
research, and addictive disclosure.
And there is a new serious problem. Discount cigarettes, legally
priced at $10 to $12 per carton less than more recognized brands,
now comprise of almost 40 per cent of the market.
"We have enormous work to do," said Cunningham, "but
the potential to reduce disease and death is huge by protecting
the continuation of our existing interventions and by implementing
an extremely long to-do list. The future is in our hands."
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