Smoking to get scarier with new warning labels

Health Canada released Friday a new set of bigger and more graphic health warnings for cigarette packages that will require tobacco companies to overhaul both the inside and outside of packs. Twelve images to cover 75 per cent of the outside panel of cigarette packages were unveiled alongside eight health messages to appear on the inside in full colours. "Canada is the only country in the world that actually takes over the inside of the package as well as the outside," Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said Friday. "This is really innovative." Tobacco companies will also have to include four toxic emission messages for the side panel, along with the tollfree number of a national quit smoking line. The draft regulations provide that the new warnings will be required on all packages sold in stores as of March 2012. "The overall package warning system is excellent. The interior messages complement the exterior warnings," said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society. Health Canada estimates the revamped cigarette packages, including an increase in the size of the outside health warnings to 75 per cent from 50 per cent of the panel, will result in dramatic savings to the economy. The department's cost-benefit analysis estimates that the costs of implementing the proposed regulations would range from $74.1 million to $83.3 million over a 10-year period, including appropriately $11.7 million for the government with the remaining costs accrued by the tobacco industry.

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