Critics Slam Graphic Canadian Anti-Smoking Messages
TORONTO (Reuters) - An anti-smoking consumer group said on Wednesday it was so disgusted with ugly images of disease planned for Canada's cigarette packs that it will sell alternative sleeves giving a more positive message.
The Canadian Council for Non-Smoking, which describes itself as a privately funded, not-for-profit group, said pictures of cancerous lungs and mouths proposed for 60 percent of both sides of each cigarette pack sold in Canada were simply ''medical pornography.''
But the Canadian Cancer Society and the Non-Smokers Rights Association, which raised doubts about who funds the rival lobby group, said their research showed that the graphic messages worked. The two groups last year lobbied the government to make tobacco manufacturers publish the pictures.
``The people who put this system together were professional, and they knew exactly what they were doing,'' said Garfield Mahood, Executive Director of non-smokers rights group.
The messages include everything from images of an amputated gangrenous foot to a picture of a drooping cigarette with the caption: ``Tobacco use can make you impotent.''
``Put that on a cigarette package and I would never smoke again in my life, no way!'' said one member of a focus group asked to comment on the pictures, which are already appearing on cigarette packs.
But Frank Dwyer, president of the Council for Non-Smoking, said the new pictures would not work.
``The new photos of diseased organs on cigarette packs will have no more effect on smoking rates than the stark warnings did 10 years ago,'' he said.
Dwyer's group plans to sell sleeves for cigarette packs that suggest positive ways to help individuals quit smoking.
Proceeds will go to the group's Youth Trust Agreement--a contract teenagers can sign promising never to start smoking.
Mahood said the text warnings became commonplace after a while, which meant an aggressive new campaign was needed.
``It was the smokers that said they wanted the warnings on the packs to be bigger. They wanted warnings with pictures and graphics. Anything that you can do they wanted,'' he said.