Canada is poised to become the first country in the world to require that a warning be printed on every cigarette.
The move builds on Canada’s mandate to include graphic photo warnings on tobacco products’ packaging – a groundbreaking policy that started an international trend when it was introduced two decades ago.
“We need to address the concern that these messages may have lost their novelty, and to an extent we worry that they may have lost their impact as well,” Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said at a news conference Friday.
“Adding health warnings on individual tobacco products will help ensure that these essential messages reach people, including the youth who often access cigarettes one at a time in social situations, sidestepping the information printed on a package.”
A consultation period for the proposed change is set to begin Saturday, and the government anticipates the changes coming into force in the latter half of 2023.
While the exact messaging printed on cigarettes could change, Bennett said the current proposal is: “Poison in every puff.”
Bennett also revealed expanded warnings for cigarette packages that include a longer list of smoking’s health effects.
Canada has required the photo warnings since the turn of the millennium, but the images haven’t been updated in a decade.
Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said he hopes the warnings printed directly on cigarettes become popular internationally, just like the packaging warnings did.
“This is going to set a world precedent,” Cunningham said, adding no other country has implemented such regulations. He’s hopeful that the warning will make a real difference.
“It’s a warning that you simply cannot ignore,” Cunningham said. “It’s going to reach every smoker, with every puff.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2022.