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Canada to Put Health Warnings on Individual Cigarettes


Smokers in Canada will soon have a new warning to contend with. Instead of putting health warnings on the outside of packages, they will be placed on each individual cigarette. The sticks of tobacco will be wrapped in paper containing phrases like “Cigarettes cause cancer” and “Poison in every puff,” according to the country’s health agency. Some other phrases include: “Tobacco harms children” and “Smoking causes impotence.”

The campaign is part of Canada’s plan to reduce tobacco use by 5 percent through 2035. In an announcement on Wednesday, the agency said the changes, which are expected to take effect on August 1, “will make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings” on tobacco products.

But the new cigarettes with individual warning labels won’t be available in stores until April 2025, according to the agency. The warning will also be placed on cigars and other tobacco products.

 “We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages,” Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions, told the public. “This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable.” She added that the labels “will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking.”

Experts say the change in labeling will convince more people to give up smoking, especially young people who have yet to be addicted. Several anti-smoking organizations celebrated the announcement, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Lung Association.

“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 added in a statement. “Our government is using every evidence-based tool at our disposal to help protect the health of Canadians, especially young people.”

Most recent data shows that around 13 percent of Canadians aged 15 and older smoke cigarettes, including 16 percent of males and 11 percent of females. Eleven percent of males and 8 percent of females in that age group smoke daily. That is similar to the U.S., which has a smoking rate of 12.5 percent among adults ages 18 and up.

According to the health agency, the changes were informed by a series of public consultations. The outside packaging will also feature visceral images that highlight the health effects of smoking. Specifically, the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labeling Regulations require:

  • Renewed health-related messages (health warnings, health information messages and toxicity information).
  • Health warning and toxicity information requirements extended to all tobacco product packaging.
  • A minimum size of 75% of the main display area of the packaging for health warnings for most tobacco products.
  • A new location for the health information messages on cigarette packages to make these messages more noticeable.
  • A health warning printed directly on individual cigarettes, little cigars that have tipping paper, and tubes to inform users, in particular young persons who may not be exposed to the packaging, of the health hazards of tobacco use.
  • A rotation scheme that aims to enhance the novelty and relevance of the messages on tobacco products and packages by rotating sets of messages on a predetermined schedule.
  • The ability to update the content of health-related messages (such as images or text) to reflect the most up to date science and research available without updating the regulations.
Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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