Tobacco companies could be legally required by the Canadian government to remove terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ from cigarette packaging if they fail to do so voluntarily.

The threat came in a letter from Canadian health minister Allan Rock to the country’s tobacco firms. “We know that many smokers have switched to smoking ‘light’ brands in the mistaken belief that such cigarettes are less harmful to their health,” declared Rock. “But the time has come to dispel the myths.”

Referring to documents gleaned from the tobacco industry which suggest that the supposedly ‘light’ cigarettes are designed to target people thinking about quitting, Rock issued his warning: “I have asked my officials and advisers to further investigate this issue, to gather the science and other evidence, and to advise me on a course of action, which could include regulation or prohibition.”

Canada has been particularly vehement in its clampdown on tobacco advertising – the Health Department has already ordered that at least 50% of cigarette packaging should feature graphic images of internal organs suffering from tobacco-related diseases [WAMN:02-Jan-01].

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily