An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says Ottawa's cancellation of plans to update warning labels on cigarettes may lead to increased smoking and smoking-related illnesses and deaths.
The editorial is calling on federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to make sure new warning labels on tobacco products are implemented without delay.
CMAJ deputy editor Dr. Matthew Stanbrook and editor-in-chief Dr. Paul Hebert write that warning labels are an inexpensive and effective communications strategy that directly confronts smokers.
They say the "dose" of information automatically increases with the amount of tobacco consumed - the more often smokers reach for a cigarette, the more often they see the warnings.
The editorial says graphic warnings also deter non-smokers from taking up the habit, but labels must be refreshed or they lose their impact over time.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Aglukkaq says Health Canada is examining the renewal of health warnings on tobacco packaging, "but is not ready to move forward at this time."