Canada became the first country in the world to implement a new safe guard for a pack of smokes — health warnings that are printed directly on individual cigarettes.
The new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labeling Regulations will come into force on August 1, 2023, with most measures being implemented on the Canadian market within the year.
The new labeling rules target the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products.
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. Regular-size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper, and tubes will be required to carry new labels by the end of April 2025.
"The requirement for a health warning directly on every cigarette is a world precedent-setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff. This innovative measure will be accompanied by enhanced warnings on the package exterior and health messages on the package interior that are internationally unique. The new regulations deserve strong support," says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.
In 2000, Canada adopted pictorial warning requirements for tobacco product packages. However, evidence on the effectiveness of these warnings is conflicting.
In a survey of 353 undergraduate students in Thailand, about 70% reported that warning images had a high level of influence on the decision to quit smoking.
A 2019 experiment that included 294 American adults found that the presence of graphic health warning labels did not influence participants’ purchase of cigarettes. Nevertheless, for those with lower nicotine dependence, graphing warnings reduced the chances of cigarette purchases compared to participants with high nicotine dependence.
A telephone survey with 9,058 adult smokers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia asked them about toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke.
The survey found that smokers living in countries with government-mandated warnings had health knowledge. For example, smokers in Canada were 2.68 times more likely to agree that smoking causes impotence compared to smokers from the other three countries.
- Government of Canada. Canada to become first country in the world to require health warnings on individual cigarettes.
- Health Education Research. Do graphic health warning labels on cigarette packages deter purchases at point-of-sale? An experiment with adult smokers.
- Sage Journals. Effectiveness of Warning Graphic Labels on Cigarette Packs in Enhancing Late-Teenagers’ Perceived Fear of Smoking-Related Harms in Bangkok, Thailand.
- BMJ Journals. Effectiveness of cigarette warning labels in informing smokers about the risks of smoking: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey.