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BID TO DELAY MORE GRAPHIC CIGARETTE HEALTH WARNINGS REBUFFED

Having lost a bid to delay tough new warnings on their cigarette packages, Canadian tobacco companies will soon include pictures of diseased lungs, mouths and brains on their packages.

While the tobacco giants -- Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald, and Rothman's Benson and Hedges -- still have their main constitutional challenge against the new labeling law before the courts, a Quebec Superior Court judge tossed out their request to delay the December deadline for printing the new warnings.

While it is "far from certain" that price hikes or "more forceful warnings will solve the problem" of increased tobacco use among the young, Justice Danielle Grenier wrote in her decision, "what is known is that the regulations, while imperfect, were adopted in the interest of the citizens."

Under the new rules, passed by Canada's Parliament last June, the size of health alerts on cigarette packages will increase from covering about 30 percent of the package to 50 percent. The new warnings will also change from simple written cautions, to include grim color photos of body parts diseased from tobacco use.

While Canada's federal government is looking to scare people away from cigarettes, the government of Quebec is taking a different approach.

Quebec, often referred to as the "smoking section of Canada" for its lax anti-smoking laws, has decided to subsidize smokers who want to quit.

Starting Oct. 1, Quebec smokers will be reimbursed for the cost of nicotine patches, nicotine gum and a prescription medicine called Zyban.

The initiative will cost Quebec about $3.5 million in U.S. funds, but government officials hope it will save money in the long run by cutting the nearly $450 million the province spends treating tobacco-related diseases.

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