Canada to Start Printing Health Warnings on Individual Cigarette

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The regulation, which will go into effect August 1, is part of Canada's goal to drop its nationwide tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035.

The Canadian government is set to put a health warning label directly on every individual cigarette, Canada announced Wednesday, the first country in the world to do so.

“Cigarettes cause cancer,” “Poison in every puff,” and “Tobacco smoke harms children,” are among the messages that will soon appear – in English and French – on each cigarette sold in the country.

“The new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations will be part of the Government of Canada’s continued efforts to help adults who smoke to quit, to protect youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction, and to further reduce the appeal of tobacco,” Health Canada said in a news release.

The health agency noted the new regulations, which will come into effect on August 1, “will make it virtually impossible” for smokers to avoid health warnings on tobacco products.

The move, which follows a 75-day public consultation period launched last year, is part of Canada’s goal to drop its nationwide tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035. It will be accompanied by other measures aimed at reducing the number of smokers in the country.

Health Canada anticipates that by April 2025, retailers in the country will only carry tobacco products that feature the new warning labels directly on the cigarettes.

Products that will have labels on tipping paper include individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products, the agency said.

Warning labels are already printed on cigarette package covers, but Health Canada said it plans to expand on those by printing additional warning labels inside the packages themselves, and introducing new external warning messages.

“Tobacco use continues to be one of Canada’s most significant public health problems, and is the country’s leading preventable cause of disease and premature death,” Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement. “Our government is using every evidence-based tool at our disposal to help protect the health of Canadians, especially young people.”

Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions Carolyn Bennett said tobacco use kills around 48,000 Canadians each year. “We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages,” she said in a statement, calling the change a “bold step”.

The move was applauded by the Canadian Cancer Society, Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Lung Association, which all said they hope the measures will deter people, especially youth, from taking up smoking.