The Canadian government wants to require cigarette manufacturers to print written health warnings on individual cigarettes, reports Reuters, citing Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett.
If the plan moves forward, Canada would be the first country to implement such a rule. In 2001, Canada pioneered graphic health warnings on cigarette packs, an example that has since been followed by many other nations.
Carolyn Bennett said the measure had become stale for the 13 percent of Canadians who smoke regularly.
“Adding health warnings on individual tobacco products will help ensure that these essential messages reach people, including the youth, who often access cigarettes one at a time in social situations sidestepping the information printed on a package,” she was quoted as saying.
A 75-day public consultation period will start on June 11, and this will inform the development of the proposed new regulations.
Rothmans Benson & Hedges, the Canadian unit of Philip Morris International, said the proposals would not help cut the number of smokers.
“We believe that better choices start with better information, and the millions of current adult smokers should be given access to the appropriate information about alternatives,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) welcomed the plan.
“We are delighted to see proposed new graphic health warnings on all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco” said Les Hagen, executive director of ASH Canada in a statement. “A picture is worth a thousand words and these pictures and messages will protect thousands of Canadians from tobacco dependence and disease. The new and improved warnings will replace the stale messages that have appeared on tobacco packages for over 10 years. The messages on cigarette sticks are a global precedent and will warn smokers about the grave risks of smoking with every puff. The visibility and intensity of these warnings will better reflect the enormous risks of smoking.”
Tobacco use kills over 50,000 Canadians each year—more than all other drugs combined, according to ASH.