The family of an Alberta anti-smoking activist is pushing to have a photo of the woman on her deathbed used on cigarette packages in Canada.
Tarbox, who died of lung cancer in 2003 at 41 years old, spent her final days as the poster child for Alberta’s anti-smoking movement. Before she was confined to a hospital bed, Tarbox spent almost every waking moment lecturing students and working for anti-smoking groups.
A similar health warning using the same photo of Tarbox was recently proposed for American cigarette packages by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminsitration. The best choise for your health is to quit smoking cigarettes.
“It is very disheartening to know that Barb’s warning may not see the light of day in Canada while (possibly) appearing on millions of cigarette packages in the United States,” said her husband Pat Tarbox.
“One of Barb’s last wishes was to have her dying image conveyed on cigarette packages. Barb was selflessly committed to preventing others from experiencing her fate. It would be a terrible shame if Canadians are deprived of Barb’s message. The Prime Minister has the ability to get these warnings approved and to provide Canadians with further protection from the deadly consequences of tobacco use.”
According to Les Hagen of Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta, the federal government has put any decision to use the image on hold indefinitely.
He says the Commons Health Committee doesn’t know if the image would be effective with children and teens, and that the more pressing issue is contraband cigarettes.
The issue has been on the table in Ottawa for seven years, he said, adding the government should be embarrassed that the U.S. is moving much quicker on using the image of a Canadian victim of lung cancer.
Pat Tarbox said the image of his wife in her final moments is the first time a real person would be used on cigarette packaging, and that it’s a message that will reach children and adults.
Meanwhile, he’s calling on all Canadians to contact the Prime Minister’s office or Health Canada to get the issue back on the agenda.
Health Canada has invested millions of dollars in the development of the new health warnings including 60 focus groups held across the country.
Research has revealed that the current health warnings have lost their impact over time.
Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of premature death in Canada—resulting in 37,000 deaths annually.