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The Globe and Mail

$3.6-million spent on cigarette warnings that weren't implemented

The federal government's abortive plan to introduce new warning labels on cigarette packages cost more than $3.6-million over six years, according to documents released Tuesday.

In September, in a meeting with provincial and territorial officials, the government announced that it was backing away from the idea, which would have seen more graphic images covering a larger portion of packs. Instead, officials said they would focus on efforts to fight contraband tobacco.

The documents released Tuesday offer more details on the process the government went through in developing the labels and the amount of money spent. An expense spreadsheet indicates nearly $1.9-million went towards conducting public-opinion research, $945,000 was spent on contracts and a little less than $500,000 was transferred to the provinces to develop a national anti-smoking "quitline" phone number. Another $305,000 was allocated for other expenses such as travel and room rentals.

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The papers also detail the various market-research studies undertaken for the government between 2004 and 2009 and list meetings with stakeholders, including charities and tobacco companies, starting in January, 2004. The final meeting in the log, dated May of this year, was held with Imperial Tobacco to discuss initiatives to stop contraband and "suspended regulatory projects."

Health Canada released the documents at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health.

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