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Update on Including a Quitline Number on Cigarette Packages and Advertisements in North America

Tuesday, January 11, 2011  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

In the past month, both Canada and the U.S. have moved forward on regulations to include a quitline number on cigarette packages and advertisements.

In Canada, regulatory action on new tobacco warnings, slated to include a quitline number, appeared to be at a standstill in the fall. However, pressure from leading national advocates has been effective in gaining government action. On Dec. 30, 2010, Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced new warning requirements. She said that they would appear on packages in 2011. According to Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society, "In the best case scenario, warnings would start to appear on packages only in the fourth quarter of 2011, and likely at the end of the fourth quarter (e.g. December 2011).” This allows a year for planning for increased call volume at the helplines. Cunningham anticipates that it would take further months until all packages at the retail level depict the new warnings and the helpline number. As always, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the projected timetable as the tobacco industry may attempt to delay the process.

NAQC will keep you updated on key activities that need to take place in Canada. NAQC would like to thank our colleagues at Canadian Cancer Society for this update. To view NAQC’s letter to the Prime Minister and Health Minister, click here.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with new tobacco warnings. A proposed rule was published in November. NAQC and many other tobacco control organizations submitted comments on the proposed rule on or before January 11. NAQC made three recommendations to the FDA on including 800-QUIT-NOW as the cessation resource that should appear in warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements:

1) FDA should select 1-800-QUIT-NOW as the smoking cessation resource under Section 1141.16 of the Tobacco Control Act;

2) Every warning for cigarette packages and advertisements should include 1-800-QUIT-NOW and its numeric equivalent (1-800-784-8669). In addition, the telephone numbers should be clearly identified as a quitline; and

3) FDA should replace the criteria for the tobacco cessation resource and in their place require the provision of information and services that comply with the most current version of the U.S. Public Health Services Guideline on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

NAQC’s full comments

National advocates's comments

Tracy Orleans’s (RWJF) comments

Shu-Hong Zhu's (California Smokers' Helpline) comments

Many thanks to our members and partners who provided feedback on NAQC’s comments. We will keep you updated on next steps.

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