In a world’s first, Canada will start printing warnings directly on individual cigarettes. Caanda is doing this in a bit to deter people from starting smoking and encourage others to quit. The warnings, which will be printed in English and French, will include phrases such as “poison in every puff” and “cigarettes cause cancer.”
Tobacco kills up to half of its users. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year -- including 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Yet people still want to smoke. There are around 1.3 billion tobacco smokers around the world, mostly in low and middle-income countries.
So countries are increasingly pushing ways to discourage people from smoking.
The new measure is part of a new set of tobacco regulations in Canada. The country was the first to adopt pictorial warning requirements for cigarette packages in 2000, increasing awareness of the health risks of tobacco use. The labels that are currently used use strong strong images with messages that are credible and informative. But even so, plennty of people still smoke.
Canada takes on tobacco
“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,” Carolyn Bennet, Canadian Associate Minister of Health, said in a news release. “This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable.”
About 13% of Canada’s population uses tobacco. More than just a major health burden, this is also a financial burden, costing the country’s healthcare system about $6 billion per year, the government said. The number of smokers has been steadily going down thanks to public awareness and regulations on tobacco sales and taxation. But there's still a way to go as Canada aims to reach less than 5% tobacco use by 2035.
After a series of public consultations, Canada has now updated its policies for cigarette packaging. The new legislation will include new warnings on individual cigarettes. From now on, 75% of the display area of the packaging will feature health warnings, which will have to rotate from time to time. Packages will also start featuring toxicity information.
Studies have shown that regularly updating warnings with images and text is a highly effective method for increasing awareness of health effects among smokers.
The government said these new regulations are in line with the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – the world’s first global public health treaty. It sets out steps for governments to address tobacco use, including adopting tax and price measures, banning tobacco advertising, and putting health warnings on packages.
Canada’s Hearth and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Lung Association, and the Canadian Cancer Society have all celebrated the updated policies, claiming they will significantly help to reduce the appeals of cigarettes for youth.
“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 at the Canadian Cancer Society said in a news release. “This will be accompanied by enhanced measures on the package.”