Trade Resources Policy & Opinion The State of Canada's Tobacco Control

The State of Canada's Tobacco Control

Canadians have by now gotten used to the gruesome images of smoking effects shown on the packages of cigarettes. In tobacco control, Canada has been a leader among countries worldwide in requiring the large graphic warnings to be shown on cigarette packages.

Double Standard

Yet, cigarettes are not the only tobacco products in the market. There are also cigars, smokeless tobacco products, RYO and more. The tough tobacco health warnings suddenly become less bigger. This makes the country somehow infringing the international treaty requiring participants to make sure that all tobacco products have appropriate warnings.

Rather than passing a federal law preventing little cigars with candy flavors from being sold and marketed to teenagers, manufacturers have even found a loophole they can use that left the market very open for the products called by critics as starter cigarettes.

Canadian Cancer Society senior policy analyst Rob Cunningham describes it as a double standard detracting the country's once concrete reputation as tobacco control leader. He added that there is a need for the job that Canada has started to finally be completed.

Graphic Warnings On Cigarette Packs Only

Canada was the first country to impose this in 2000. Cigarette makers were forced to include full colored graphic health warnings on cigarette effects. The gruesome images were required to cover at least 50% of the package. In 2012, this became 75%.

For some reasons, however, other tobacco products were largely exempted. Individual packages of cigars were usually sold with no health warnings just like water pipe tobacco. Chewing tobacco do have warning texts, but not graphic images.

Without the warning labels on other tobacco products, Canada is essentially breaking the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It was 2011 when Health Canada last said that it will phase new warnings for the products; yet nothing has happened.

Inadequate tobacco product health warnings isolate the cigarillos as the most troubling. Cigarillos are available in various fruit and candy flavors sold in small packages or retailed individually. Thus, they are particularly attractive to the youth.

The Loophole

In 2010, the federal government passed a law that ban cigarillo sale due to complaints that they turn teens to smoking. The problem with this legislation is only cigarillos 1.4 grams or less or those with filters are prohibited.

Manufacturers found a loophole and simply made their products to weigh more and they removed the filter. Thus, the well-intentioned law is now essentially useless.

It appears that the federal government has no intention of closing the loophole. The candy-flavored mini-cigars will remain available to young people without even a small warning just how deadly the products are.

Importance Of Health Warning

Some think that tobacco products health warnings are of nanny states that do not think its people could make best choices and decisions. Yet, tobacco products are considerably addictive and deadly. They are also often marketed to the youth. Graphic warnings on labels are more than justified.

Health Canada's 2012 Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey showed that 4% Canadians 15 years old and older have already smoked a cigarillo or a cigar in the previous 30 days. Many of them were below the legal buying age. Meanwhile 10% of the 15 years old and above Canadians admitted to have used water pipe and 8% have tried smokeless tobacco.

Health warnings are said to be effective. Numerous studies like the 2012 published study in PLOS One journal found that the graphic images have stringer impact on the smokers that the text warnings. Graphic warning encourages smokers to quit smoking.

Canadian federral government has done a good job placing such warning on cigarettes, buts its duty does not stop there. Other tobacco products require similar impactful messages on their packages.

Contribute Copyright Policy