This regulation will come into effect from August 1, stated Health Canada

Canada becomes first country to start putting health warnings on individual cigarettes

By Anirudh Bhattacharyya

This regulation will come into effect from August 1, stated Health Canada

While packets carry such warnings of the risks associated with smoking, the Canadian Government is taking this measure to ensure that it becomes “virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether.”

Canada has become the first country in the world to stipulate that individual cigarettes carry mandatory health warnings.

These regulations will come into effect on August 1 this year. These cigarettes will be introduced in a phased manner. The individual health warnings will first appear on king size cigarettes by the end of July 2024, and by the end of April 2025, other varieties, regular size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper, and tubes, will follow. Retailers will start selling packages with updated warnings by the end of April 2024, a release from Health Canada on Wednesday said.

“Tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year. We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages. 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,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett said.

These measures were welcomed by anti-smoking advocates. “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,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, noted. Also in support was Doug Roth, CEO of Heart & Stroke, who felt that these “strengthened health messages on tobacco packaging” will “reinforce the deadly nature of these products.”

Canada first adopted pictorial warnings on tobacco product packages in 2000. Current health warnings on cigarette packets were introduced in 2011.

“Beginning next year, these new measures will help make sure that everyone across the country can receive credible information on the risks of tobacco use so they can make healthier choices for their wellbeing,” Canada’s Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said.

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