The country will be the first in the world to print these warnings directly on individual cigarettes.
“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,” Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in a Health Canada news release announcing the new labeling. “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.”
Tobacco use kills about 48,000 Canadians each year, Bennett noted.
The changes are intended to help adults quit smoking and to protect youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction.
Retailers and smokers will start to see these new messages on cigarette packaging by the end of April 2024. They will appear on individual king-size cigarettes by late July 2024 and on regular cigarettes, little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.
Messages will include such phrases as “tobacco smoke harms children” and “poison in every puff,” the Associated Press reported.
The regulations will support Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, which has set a target of reaching less than 5% tobacco use by 2035.
Among the changes are strengthening health-related messages on tobacco products, extending the requirement to all tobacco packages and beginning to rotate 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 in Canada,” Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, said in the Health Canada news release. “Our government is using every evidence-based tool at our disposal to help protect the health of Canadians, especially young people.”
The country first began using warnings that contained pictures on tobacco product packages in 2000. Current messaging and images have been in place on some products since 2011 and on others for more than 20 years.
“The bold measures announced today to strengthen tobacco product labelling will ensure the dangers of these products to lung health cannot be missed. Requiring warnings directly on cigarettes — the first country to do so — will help to reduce their appeal, particularly for youth,” said Terry Dean, president and CEO of the Canadian Lung Association. “Canada must continue to take decisive action to reduce tobacco use.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the health impacts of tobacco use.
SOURCE: Health Canada, news release, May 31, 2023; Associated Press
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