In advance of World No Tobacco Day, health organizations are urging the federal government to move quickly to implement plain and standardized tobacco packaging. This year the theme of the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day, held on May 31, is Get Ready for Plain Packaging.
Four countries have already mandated plain packaging, starting with Australia in 2012, with the United Kingdom and France on May 20, 2016, and with Ireland soon to follow. Research from many countries, including research on Australia’s experience, has demonstrated that removing all promotional features from tobacco packaging is effective at reducing smoking rates, increasing the effectiveness of health warnings, and reducing common misperceptions about health risks.
Health groups in Canada are calling for plain and standardized packaging that would prohibit all promotional features on all tobacco packaging, including colours, images, logos, slogans, distinctive fonts, and finishes. Only the brand name would be allowed. Graphic health warnings would remain on packages. Equally important, the size and shape of cigarette packs would be standardized, prohibiting specialty packages of slim and superslim cigarettes that target young women and render the health warnings almost illegible. Health groups also want to see the appearance of cigarettes standardized, at a minimum prohibiting the use of branding, logos, colours and special finishes, and establishing standards for length and diameter.
Plain packaging was included in the election platform of the federal government and was identified as a priority in the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott.
Health organizations in Canada endorsing plain and standardized packaging include:
Action on Smoking and Health
Asthma Society of Canada
Campaign for Justice on Tobacco Fraud
Canadian Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco
Canadian Council of Cardiovascular Nurses
Canadian Council for Tobacco Control
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
Canadian Diabetes Association
Canadian Lung Association
Canadian Medical Association
Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada
Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Non-Smokers’ Rights Association
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
Plain and standardized packaging is a key tobacco control measure. The sooner plain and standardized packaging is implemented, the sooner youth and public health in Canada will be better protected from the tobacco industry’s promotional inducements.
The Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco is a national coalition of health organizations. Members include: Action on Smoking and Health, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, the Canadian Lung Association, the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.