Canada will require health warnings to be printed directly on individual cigarettes and cigars in a strong step in the fight against smoking, the country’s addiction minister announced Wednesday.
The messaging, which will begin gradually on August 1, will include lines such as “Every puff is poison,” “Tobacco smoke harms children” and “Cigarettes cause cancer.”
Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said tobacco use is killing 48,000 Canadians each year. The new labeling rule is a “world first”, he said, although the UK has toyed with a similar regulation.
“This bold move will make health warning messages essentially indispensable and provide a real and striking reminder of the health consequences of smoking with updated graphic images displayed on packages,” Bennett said.
The Government of Canada notes that some young people, who are particularly susceptible to the risk of tobacco dependence, begin smoking after receiving a cigarette instead of a package labeled with a health warning.
In 2000, Canada became the first country to include graphic warnings on cigarette packages, including frightening images of diseased hearts and lungs, to raise awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use.
Smoking has decreased in the last two decades.
Ottawa aims to reduce the number of smokers in the country to 5% of the population by 2035; Currently it is around 13%.