• July 15, 2024

Stick Warnings Take Effect in Canada

 Stick Warnings Take Effect in Canada
Image: Health Canada

A new rule requiring warning labels on individual cigarettes in Canada takes effect today, reports The Canadian Press.

The move, announced earlier this year, makes Canada the first country to take that step to deter smoking.

Under the new law, cigarette manufacturers will be required to print messages in English and French on the paper around the filter, warning smokers about the risk of damage to organs, impotence and leukemia, among other diseases.

Manufacturers have until the end of July 2024 to ensure the warnings are on all king-size cigarettes sold, followed by regular-size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, believes the labels will dissuade teens leaning toward taking up the habit and encourage nicotine-dependent adults to quit.

Dozens of studies in Canada and elsewhere show the effectiveness of printing warnings on each cigarette, he noted.

Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are banned in Canada, with warnings on cigarette packs dating back to 1972.

In 2001, Canada became the first country to require tobacco companies to print pictorial warnings on the outside of cigarette packages and include inserts with health-promoting messages.

Federal rules ban packaging that includes brand colors or trademarks.

The tobacco industry has warned against unintended consequences. The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco, which is funded by Canada’s leading cigarette manufacturers, warned in June that cheaper, colorful black-market packs free of health warnings attract young smokers and funnel more money to organized crime.

While acknowledging that big tax hikes or sales bans would indeed benefit the black market, Cunningham believes that gradual price boosts and more strident messaging can bring down smoking rates.

“The only real reason that they can oppose something is because it’s going to have a reduction in sales— and that is exactly the point,” he said of the manufacturers.