Smoking | Warnings on every cigarette

Canada will become the first country in the world to require health warnings printed directly on individual cigarettes, the Trudeau government announced on Wednesday. A measure acclaimed by health groups, but which arouses the misunderstanding of the tobacco industry.

“Smoking damages your organs” “Smoking causes impotence” “Poison in every puff”. From 2025, each cigarette, little cigar and other tobacco product will be individually labeled with a consumer warning.

The announcement was made by Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett on Wednesday on World No Tobacco Day. The aim is to help adults who smoke to quit, protect young people and non-smokers from nicotine addiction, and reduce the appeal of tobacco.

“From next year, these new measures will help ensure that everyone can receive credible information about the risks of smoking, in order to make healthier choices for their well-being,” said the Minister of Health. Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.

As of April 2024, retailers will be required to sell tobacco products displaying new health messages. Long cigarettes will be the first to carry individual health warnings by July 2024. Thereafter, regular cigarettes, little cigars with tipping paper and tubes will also have to carry these warnings by April 2025 .

Inform young people

“It seems like a good idea. It is an innovation on the part of the federal government to take this kind of step forward. These initiatives are to be welcomed, especially from the point of view of children’s health”, declared to The Press the Dr Nicholas Chadi, pediatrician at the CHU Sainte-Justine and author of the recommendations of the Canadian Pediatric Society on smoking and vaping.

The warning printed directly on individual cigarettes is of particular concern to young people who may not pay attention to the packaging, the federal government said.

“Sometimes in children and adolescents who start smoking at an early age, they will not buy a pack of cigarettes themselves, they will be given some or ask for individual cigarettes from peers or family members. . So to have this warning on every cigarette, it increases the chances that they will get the message, ”explains the Dr Chadi.

An aversive and repulsive effect

It is difficult to know what impact these new measures will really have, indicates the Dr Chadi. However, some studies have shown “that putting warnings and graphic images on cigarette packs can have an aversive and repulsive effect for children and adolescents”, notes the specialist.

The federal government has planned to rotate the messages displayed on tobacco products and packages according to a predetermined schedule. The content of health-related messages, such as images and text, may also be modified to reflect the latest scientific research.

Canada wants these new measures to help achieve its goal of achieving a smoking rate of less than 5% by 2035. objective,” said the director of government relations in Quebec at Coeur+AVC, Kevin Bilodeau, who was delighted with the announcement.

The Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control also enthusiastically welcomed the new regulations. “Like any advertising unchanged for 10 years, the warnings that have been found on cigarette packs since 2011 had lost their effectiveness with smokers and those around them,” said Flory Doucas, co-director and word of the Coalition.

A “counterproductive” measure

For Éric Gagnon, vice-president of legal and external affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada, it is difficult to understand the government’s reasoning regarding these new regulations. He maintains in particular that these measures will have no impact on the Canadian market for illegal cigarettes, “which will again benefit from a competitive advantage compared to legal tobacco manufacturers”, he says.

He also estimates that these new regulations will require more than 20% more paperboard packaging and about 19% more ink than current cigarette packaging. “This measure seems counterproductive as governments try to reduce the burden of packaging on the environment,” he says.


January 31, 2024

Manufacturers will be required to display fourteen new picture warnings on the exterior of tobacco products. The messages appearing inside the packages will also need to be improved.

April 30, 2024

Within a year, manufacturers will have to add health warnings to even long format cigarettes, ie 83 to 85 mm in length.

January 31, 2025

It will then be the turn of regular size cigarettes, ie 70 to 73 mm, small cigars with tipping paper and tubes to display health warnings.

July 31, 2026

As a final step in this new regulation, the top flap of cigarette packs will display health information messages.

Tobacco: backtracking

From banning smoking in schools to introducing plain cigarette packaging, Quebec and Canada have implemented a series of strict measures to combat smoking in recent decades. Go back.


It becomes forbidden to smoke in government, municipal, school and health and social services establishments in Quebec. However, the by-law does not apply in a place reserved for staff use or in a smoking room. Smoking is also banned on board all Canadian aircraft during flights of two hours or less.


Smoking is banned from workplaces. In restaurants, a maximum of 40% of the places reserved for customers can be considered as places where smoking is permitted.


Canada introduces rules for offensive images on cigarette packaging for the first time, in a bid to show the health hazards and harmful effects of smoking.


Canada prohibits any promotion linking a brand of cigarettes to a social, cultural or sporting activity. The Jarry Park tennis stadium loses its name of “Stade du Maurier”. For its part, Imperial Tobacco Canada is abolishing its Player’s Team and its Matinée Mode Foundation.


It becomes forbidden to smoke in bars, brasseries, taverns and bingo halls in Quebec. “Smoking” areas in restaurants, malls, bowling alleys, billiard halls, convention centers and other entertainment venues are also disappearing.


Retailers are required to hide tobacco products from view of customers. This measure aims to discourage the impulse purchase of cigarettes and to reduce the exposure of young people to tobacco products.


Pictorial warnings must now occupy 75% of the front and back of cigarette packs. These warnings are accompanied by colorful health messages and images, as well as clear statements about toxic emissions and hazardous components present.


The ban on smoking in vehicles in the presence of people under 16 comes into force in Quebec. This measure aims to protect children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. The same year, it became forbidden to smoke within nine meters of the doors and windows of public buildings, as well as to smoke on the terraces of restaurants and bars.


Tobacco packaging and products must adopt a neutral appearance. All tobacco product packaging must be a uniform dull brown color and contain only permitted text, presented in a standardized format in terms of location, font style, color and size.

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