Jan. 20 2000
Washington, DC - [The government of Canada today proposed new regulations requiring hard-hitting messages and graphic, full-color images that cover 50 percent of the front of cigarette packages; the inclusion of smoking cessation and disease information on the package or as a package insert; increased disclosure on the package about the specific levels of toxic chemicals present in both tobacco products and in emissions (second-hand smoke); and comprehensive reporting on the contents of tobacco products and tobacco manufacturers’ research, marketing, sales, and promotional and sponsorship activities.] Canada today has set a new international standard for cigarette labeling and reporting to help consumers fully understand the lethal health consequences of using tobacco products. Under this proposal, Canadian smokers will receive detailed, highly visible information about both the magnitude of the health risks they face and the practical steps they can take to quit. Canada’s proposal underscores the woeful inadequacy of current U.S. warning labels on cigarettes, which are outdated, incomplete and not nearly as prominent and hard-hitting as they should be. Labeling doesn’t work if it isn’t seen. American labels on the sides of cigarette packages are virtually invisible. The prominence of the new Canadian labels will dramatically improve their impact and shows just how ineffective the current U.S. approach is. Congress should act to require labels of the same prominence and detail so that Americans finally know the truth about the toxic ingredients in tobacco products and secondhand smoke, the health risks faced by smokers and their families, and how to quit smoking. Americans should have the same level of information about and protection from tobacco’s dangers as our Canadian neighbors.