Canada to put warning labels on ciggies

A young man breaks a cigarette in two, quits smoking, doing it for his own good.

NEW YORK – Canada’s government department, Health Canada, said Thursday that warnings about smoking dangers will be printed directly on cigarettes themselves, reported German news agency (dpa).

It is believed to be a world first.


Smokers will have warnings like “cigarettes cause cancer” and “poison in every puff” spelled out beneath their noses every time they take a puff, according to the Canadian public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Other warnings printed on cigarettes north of the US border will read “cigarettes damage your organs” and “tobacco smoke harms children” when the federal mandate is imposed on king-size cigarettes on Aug 1. Makers of regular-size cigarettes have until July 31, 2024 to print warnings on single smokes. Cigarillo makers have until April 30, 2025 to comply.

Canada’s Associate Minister of Health and Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, said individual warnings on cigarettes paired with “updated graphic images” on packaging marks a bold new approach to saving lives.

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

The Centres for Disease Control says 10 times that many people in the US die annually due to smoking.

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada chief executive Doug Roth praised the government’s efforts to warn smokers of the risks.

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada and these important new measures will protect youth and support current smokers in their efforts to quit,” Roth said.

Canadian officials reportedly hope to get tobacco use under five per cent by 2035. Tobacco prevalence is now at 13 per cent, according to the CBC. Nearly half of Canada’s healthcare costs associated with substance issues are blamed on cigarettes.

New cigarette packaging warnings will consume at least 75 per cent of the main display area on packs and boxes. That will be accompanied by updated messages on the inside of cigarette packaging sold by retailers starting April 30, 2024.

One anti-smoking advocate told the CBC she would like to see packaging reform applied to vaping products, too. A recently published Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey found teenagers in Canada have one of the highest vaping rates worldwide. – Bernama