Canada to start printing health warnings directly on individual cigarettes

Canada will become the first country to print health warnings directly on individual cigarettes. The new rules will start being phased in later this year.

Canada will become the first country to print health warnings directly on individual cigarettes.

Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, says the move will be part of the government’s efforts to help adults quit smoking while protecting youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction.

Labelling the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products will make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether, Health Canada said in a release.

The move builds on Canada’s mandate to include graphic photo warnings on tobacco products’ packaging — a groundbreaking policy that started an international trend when it was introduced two decades ago.

Canada has required photo warnings since the turn of the millennium, but the images haven’t been updated in a decade.

The wording on every cigarette ranges from warnings about harming children and damaging organs to causing impotence and leukemia. One caution says smoking is “poison in every puff.”

The head of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada applauded the precedent-setting announcement.

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada and these important new measures will protect youth and support current smokers in their efforts to quit,” said CEO Doug Roth.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the federal government on other key measures to reduce nicotine addiction, including a comprehensive vape flavour ban that includes mint/menthol to protect youth.”

These new regulations will take effect on August 1 and will be implemented through a phased approach with retailers carrying tobacco product packages that feature the new health-related messages by the end of April 2024.

King-size cigarettes will be the first to feature individual health warnings and will be sold by retailers in Canada by the end of July 2024, followed by regular-size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper, and tubes, by the end of April 2025.

The new regulations are part of Canada’s Tobacco Strategy which has set a target of reducing tobacco use to less than five per cent by 2035.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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