Canada has announced its plan to imprint health warnings directly on every individual cigarette, making it the first country worldwide to enforce such regulations. The decision aims to contribute to the country’s ambitious goal of reducing national tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035.
Accompanying this initiative are additional measures aimed at curbing the number of smokers in Canada. Health officials have outlined their intention to strengthen health messages on tobacco product packaging, ensuring that warnings become increasingly prominent.
According to Health Canada, the new regulations will effectively eliminate the possibility of avoiding health warnings on tobacco products. The implementation of the new rules will commence on August 1, with a phased approach.
Retailers selling tobacco product packages must incorporate the new warnings by April 2024. King-size cigarettes will initially bear individual warnings by July 2024, followed by regular-sized cigarettes and other products by April 2025. This requirement extends to individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products.
The implementation of these regulations follows a 75-day public consultation period initiated last year. While Canada has mandated warning labels on cigarette packages since 1989, it slightly trailed the UK, which introduced warnings as early as 1971. The United States was the pioneering nation in enforcing health warnings on cigarette packages, passing the Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act in 1965.
Over the years, warning labels in all three countries have evolved, incorporating not only textual messages but also graphic images to vividly depict the health consequences of smoking.
Following the introduction of warning labels in the United States, there has been a notable decrease in the smoking rate. Nevertheless, certain studies have discovered that labels do not act as a deterrent for individuals with a strong dependence on nicotine.