“Tobacco smoke harms children.” “Cigarettes cause leukemia.” “Poison in every puff.”
Those are among the messages that will soon appear – in English and French – on cigarettes in Canada. The country announced Wednesday it will require health warnings to be printed directly on every individual cigarette – the first country in the world to do so.
“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,” Canadian health officials said in a news release.
The labels on individual cigarettes will make it “virtually impossible” for smokers to avoid warnings, health officials said.
The new requirement is a “world precedent-setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff,” said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.
The regulation is part of the country’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, including the strengthening of health messages on tobacco product packages, health officials said.
“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.”
The new rules go into effect August 1, but will be implemented in phases: Retailers who sell tobacco product packages will have to feature the new warnings by the end of April 2024; king-size cigarettes will first feature the individual warnings by the end of July 2024; followed by regular-sized cigarettes and other products by the end of April 2025, the news release said.