June 1, 2023 – Canada will be the first country in the world to require health warnings be printed on individual cigarettes, the country’s health ministry announced Wednesday.
Some of the messages that will appear on cigarettes and little cigars include:
- “Tobacco smoke harms children.”
- “Cigarettes cause leukemia.”
- “Poison in every puff.”
- “Cigarettes cause impotence.”
The Canadian government has a goal of reducing the rate of tobacco use from the current level of 13% to less than 5% of Canadians by 2035. In the United States, 19% of adults use tobacco products, according to the CDC.
The new requirements will be phased in beginning Aug. 1, and the messages, which will appear in English and in French, will be updated periodically.
Canada already requires the front and back of tobacco packages to devote 75% of space to pictorial health warnings and contact information for people to get help quitting tobacco use.
“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,” said Carolyn Bennett, MD, Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions, in a statement. “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.”
A tobacco policy expert told The New YorkTimes that people who smoke one pack per day would see at least 7,300 anti-smoking messages per year with the new initiative.
“There are no public health messages or messages of any kind that have that type of exposure,” Geoffrey Fong, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo, told the Times. “There’s a lot of potential for these dissuasive warning labels, dissuasive cigarettes, to be impactful.”