Canada will soon become the first country in the world where warning labels must appear on individual cigarettes.
The move was first announced last year by the health department, Health Canada, and is aimed at helping people quit the habit.
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The regulations take effect on August 1 when the federal mandate is imposed on king-size cigarettes. That will be followed by regular-size cigarettes which have until July 31, 2024 to print the warnings on single smokes, and little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.
“Tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said on Wednesday.
“This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable, and together with updated graphic images displayed on the package, will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking. We will continue to do whatever it takes to help more people in Canada stop smoking and help young people to live healthy tobacco-free lives,” she added.
The warnings – in English and French – include “poison in every puff”, “tobacco smoke harms children”, and “cigarettes cause impotence”.
As part of recognizing #WorldNoTobaccoDay, Canada became the first in the world to require health warnings printed directly on individual cigarettes.
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) May 31, 2023
Health Canada said the strategy aims to reduce tobacco use below 5 percent by 2035. New regulations also strengthen health-related graphic images displayed on packages of tobacco.
Doug Roth, chief executive of the Heart & Stroke charity, said the bold measure will ensure that dangers to lung health cannot be missed.
The Canadian Cancer Society said the measure will reduce smoking and the appeal of cigarettes, thus preventing cancer and other diseases.
Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said health messaging will be conveyed in every puff and during every smoke break. Canada, he added, will have the best tobacco health warning system in the world.
Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are banned in Canada, and warnings on cigarette packs have existed since 1972.
In 2001, Canada became the first country to require tobacco companies to include picture warnings on cigarette packages and inserts with health messages.