Government of Canada proposes to print health warnings on individual cigarettes

Ottawa: Despite decades of efforts, tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death in Canada, killing approximately 48,000 Canadians each year. While novel and provocative when introduced more than a decade ago, the current warnings on tobacco products have become stale for the 13% of people in Canada who smoke and come across them regularly.

Recognizing that more needs to be done to protect the health of people in Canada and ensure people stay informed about the health risks of tobacco use, the Government of Canada is proposing to update the health-related messages and images printed on packages of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced the launch of a 75-day public consultation period beginning on June 11 to seek feedback from people in Canada that will inform the development of new proposed tobacco labelling regulations.

A key feature of the proposed regulations is the introduction of written health warnings printed on individual cigarettes, cigars that have a filter, and cigarette tubes.

This new packaging would help to ensure that health-related messages reach people who often access cigarettes one at a time in social situations, particularly youth and young adults. Labelling the tipping paper of cigarettes and other tobacco products would make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether. If implemented, Canada would be the first country in the world to introduce such a requirement.

The proposed regulations would also build on existing requirements by updating current health-related messages, extending messaging requirements to all tobacco product packages and implementing periodic rotation of messages among other measures. These messages would include an extended list of health hazards and negative health effects to be featured on tobacco product health warnings and health information messages, including stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and cervical cancer.

In addition, the proposed regulations would support Canada’s Tobacco Strategy by preventing long-term dependence on tobacco, reducing tobacco-related death and disease, and reducing the burden on Canada’s health care system and society.

The proposed regulations can be found in the Canada Gazette, Part I. To participate in the consultation, interested parties can submit their comments via email to pregs@hc-sc.gc.ca until August 25th. Feedback from the consultation will inform the development of the final Regulations.

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