Health groups target tobacco packaging in Canada

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TORONTO -- Dozens of big-name health organizations have launched Canada's largest ever advocacy campaign targeting "predatory marketing" by the country's tobacco companies.

Called Tobacco or Kids, the campaign is the work of 32 health charities, medical associations and health-care professions that are urging Canadians to lobby federal officials to bring in tougher tobacco marketing rules.

Cigarette packaging is getting special attention from the national group, which points to packaging as a key factor in smoking's appeal to youth.

Already the coalition is sending Canadian federal politicians a hard-hitting mock cigarette package, which shows a color picture of a gangrenous foot and the message "Warning Gangrene" where a brand name or slogan might typically appear.

"We're doing a narrowcasted effort," says coalition spokesman Garfield Mahood, executive director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "We're focusing on the influencers here."

Similar packages and accompanying information will be sent to every city health unit, social services provider, school board, children's aid body, sports club and church across the country.

All materials were produced in-house, but Mr. Mahood refused to reveal specific distribution numbers and budget details.

Support for the coalition comes from organizations including the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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