EDITORIAL: Smoking out the smokers

New rule aims to increase scare factor on cigarette packaging.

The federal government hopes that grossing out the 16.7 per cent of Canadians who still smoke will convince them to quit.

New rules are in place requiring health warning messages to cover 75 per cent of the covers of all cigarette and cigarillo packages, both front and back, by this June.

The hope is that people will give up their habit if they see photos of other smokers dying of cancer or pictures of cancerous body parts.

Quitting rates have slowed, although smoking numbers are at an all-time low, and the government is forced to do something.

But will ugly packaging make the difference?

Some argue that diehard smokers who know the risks – and, seriously, who doesn’t? – will still ignore the graphic messages while others argue for blank packaging.

Repackaging is probably good on principle, but is not likely to make much tangible difference, because smoking is just one of those things people do even though they know better.

But it’s the intangible difference that could be most important.

Experts note that successfully quitting smoking is as much about the individual’s mental preparedness to kick the habit as it is about the tools or method used to butt out.

Diehard, longtime smokers might already know the risks, but anything that can add a little extra push and help bring them to a state of readiness to quit is worth the effort, particularly when the cost to the taxpayer is negligible.

Ultimately, the more people who can be encouraged and assisted to give up smoking the better, considering the health impacts for the individual, and the resulting health costs for the taxpayer.

– Black Press/News Bulletin