Pubdate: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000 The Toronto Star
Contact:  One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Author: Tim Harper, Ottawa Bureau


Claims Industry Seeking To Delay Repackaged Warnings

The country's tobacco giants have taken the Canadian printing industry
"hostage" in their bid to delay implementation of stark, new cigarette
health warnings, Allan Rock says.

The federal health minister, flanked by American tobacco industry
whistle-blower Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, made the charges yesterday as his
new tobacco regulations faced the scrutiny of a committee of MPs.

Rock wants the new graphics, featuring diseased lungs and hearts,
cancerous mouths and plaintive pleas from photogenic children covering
half the packages, in Canadian stores within a year.

The tobacco industry, using the country's printers to make the case,
says it can't be done in that timeframe without the printing industry
losing work to U.S. companies, costing Canadian jobs and closing plants.

"It's understandable the tobacco industry would want to take a hostage
given its low public credibility," Rock said.

But Rock came armed with newly printed packages to a noon-time lecture
marking World No Tobacco Day.

"Don't let them tell us it can't be done," Rock said.

"We did it."

But the printing industry said later that the packages Rock was
showing were imperfect reproductions that would not meet tobacco
industry standards.

The Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, speaking for the industry,
has warned it will cost printers more than $50 million to retool in
time to meet Rock's deadline.

The packages brandished by Rock yesterday were printed by Image Plus
Graphics of Toronto and its vice-president of production, Philip
Shilton, told MPs they were produced with ease.

"The whole process was done in a couple of weeks and it was all done
by Canadians," he said.

He was backed by Richard Warner, a Pittsburgh-based researcher from
the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, who was providing expert
testimony at Wigand's suggestion.

But the Graphics Communications International Union warned that jobs
could be lost or plants could be potentially closed.

James Bodie, a union vice-president, said the industry feared the job
losses would be permanent, but two years from now when the shock value
of the package warnings had worn off, Health Canada would be looking
for a new anti-smoking strategy.

Health Minister

"The short-term strategy is fraught with the potential of significant
job losses," he said.

Ron Syrkos, the vice-president of Lawson Mardon, a packaging company
that serves the Canadian tobacco industry and employs 130 people in
Lachine, Que., also warned that jobs could be lost.

He said his company cannot meet government needs with existing
equipment and he cannot justify the expenditures required to upgrade
the equipment.

Representatives of three other companies, including Southern Graphic
Systems from Mississauga, told MPs they cannot re-engrave more than
5,000 printing cylinders needed to change the printing process within
12 months.

Lost work will inevitably head to the U.S., the printers said.
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MAP posted-by: Allan Wilkinson