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Ottawa sets deadline to add larger graphic warnings to cigarette packages

Ottawa has finally approved bold new labelling for cigarette packages, telling tobacco manufacturers they have until March to conform.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says the edict shows the government is making good on last winter's promise to horrify smokers into not smoking.

The new labelling will cover 75 per cent of cigarette packages, and include graphic pictures of a cancer-infected mouth, and of an emaciated, cancer-stricken Barb Tarbox.

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She was an anti-smoking activist before dying of lung cancer at the age of 42, and her story – among others – will be featured on the new packaging.

Health advocates have praised the campaign, but were suspicious about the government's resolve to implement it.

Tobacco companies have said the campaign won't work, since the public already knows about the risks of smoking.

Retailers will have until next June to ensure all the packages in their stores conform to the new rules.

Health organizations were quick to commend the federal government on its decision today.

"These larger picture warnings cannot be ignored," said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, in a press release. "They will help inform Canadians, including youth, of the truly devastating health effects of smoking, and will contribute to reductions in both smoking and cancer."

Added Bobbe Wood, president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada: "Ultimately, this initiative will help reduce death and disability caused by tobacco industry products."

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