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In commemoration of World No Tobacco Day, Carolyn Bennett, the Honourable Minister for Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, made a groundbreaking announcement. Canada is soon to mandate the printing of health warnings directly on individual cigarettes, marking a world-first approach.

A Novel Step in Tobacco Control

This unique initiative falls under the new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations, representing the Canadian Government’s continual battle against nicotine addiction. The strategy aims to encourage adult smokers to quit, guard non-tobacco users and the youth from the grasp of nicotine addiction, and diminish the allure of tobacco.

Labelling on the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and various other tobacco products, makes it extremely difficult to dodge health warnings entirely. These rules align with Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, aiming for a tobacco usage rate of under 5% by 2035.

This legislation comes into force on August 1, 2023, and will gradually be implemented with most measures hitting the Canadian market within the year. By the end of April 2024, retailers are expected to offer tobacco product packages bearing the new health-centric messages. As per the phased approach, king size cigarettes will be the first to carry individual health warnings, available for purchase by July 2024. Regular size cigarettes and little cigars along with tipping paper and tubes will follow by April 2025.

Amplifying Health Messaging and Further Initiatives

Other actions include intensifying and refreshing health-related messages on tobacco product packages, extending health-related messaging to all tobacco product packages, and instigating the regular rotation of these messages.

This regulation will be published in the Canada Gazette – Part II on June 7, 2023. Meanwhile, copies of the full regulations can be obtained by reaching out to

Supporting the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA)

These measures back the objectives of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA), including the enhancement of public awareness about tobacco’s health hazards. The TVPA governs the manufacturing, sale, labelling, and promotion of tobacco products sold in Canada. A second legislative review of the TVPA is underway with a focus on tobacco provisions. Health Canada is set to launch public consultations to inform its review shortly.

In a recent statement, Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions, Carolyn Bennett, noted that tobacco use results in approximately 48,000 Canadian deaths annually. “We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages,” she said, heralding the change as a “bold step”.

Prominent Canadian health organizations, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Lung Association, commended this move. They believe that these measures could dissuade people, particularly the youth, from picking up smoking, a known risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Notably, Canada has necessitated the printing of warning labels on cigarette packages since 1989, although it was the UK that first implemented this in 1971. The US pioneered the global requirement for health warnings on cigarette packages with its Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act in 1965.

Over time, labels in these countries have evolved, most notably to incorporate graphic images alongside text to illustrate the health consequences of smoking. Since introducing warning labels, the smoking rate in the US has significantly decreased. However, some studies found that labels are ineffective deterrents for people with high nicotine dependence.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of smoking among adults in the US was 42% in the mid-1960s. However, in 2021, this rate dropped to a historical low of 11%. Still, the use of electronic cigarettes seems to be on the rise.

In Canada, the smoking rate for individuals aged 15 or older is about 10%, as per the national 2021 Tobacco and Nicotine survey. Similar to the US, this survey showed higher rates of vaping at approximately 17%.

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