Poison in every puff: World’s first health warnings directly on individual cigarettes hit stores across Canada

29 April 2024

By Canadian Cancer Society

Canada demonstrates global leadership in work to reduce smoking

OTTAWA, ON, April 29, 2024 /CNW/ – Canada’s world precedent-setting requirement for warnings directly on every individual cigarette is now being implemented with these warnings appearing on cigarettes being sold in stores. Tobacco companies have a deadline of tomorrow, Tuesday, April 30, to ensure that all their King Size cigarettes depict these new warnings. Retailers will have three additional months, until July 31, to ensure that these cigarettes have the new warnings.

The 6 rotated bilingual warnings are:

  • Poison in every puff
  • Cigarettes damage your organs
  • Cigarettes cause cancer
  • Tobacco smoke harms children
  • Cigarettes cause impotence
  • Cigarettes cause leukemia

Canadian cigarette package warnings on individual cigarettes (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society)

“A health warning directly on every individual cigarette is novel, unprecedented, and simply cannot be ignored,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “These new health warnings will be there with every cigarette and every puff, and during every smoke break. The warnings will reach youth who experiment by borrowing cigarettes from a friend. The warnings will reduce smoking and the appeal of cigarettes, and thus prevent cancer and other diseases.”

For the warnings directly on cigarettes, there will be 2 sets of 6 warnings, with sets changed in rotation. The first set of warnings for “King Size” cigarettes (83-85 mm in length), the most common size sold and the standard international size, will be implemented April 30, 2024, at the manufacturer level and July 31, 2024at the retail level. For “regular size” cigarettes (70-73 mm in length), the implementation date is January 31, 2025, at the manufacturer level and April 30, 2025, at the retail level. In 2021, 69% of the Canadian cigarette market was comprised of King Size cigarettes. The regulationsrequiring the warnings on cigarettes were announced on May 31, 2023, with the implementation transition period that has since followed.

A new round of 14 picture health warnings on the package were appearing in stores in January, given that manufacturers had a deadline of January 31, 2024, for package warnings. But manufacturers were given a longer transition period to have warnings directly on cigarettes.

It is expected that many countries will follow Canada’s example and also adopt warnings on cigarettes, just as there are now 138 countries/territories that have required picture warnings on cigarette packages, following the Canadian precedent implemented in 2001. Already, Australia has announced that it is moving forward to require warnings on cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 46,000 Canadians each year, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Based on 2022 data, there are still 3.8 million Canadians who smoke, representing 12% of the population aged 12+. An enormous amount of work needs to be done to achieve the objective of under 5% of Canadians using tobacco by 2035.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We raise funds to fuel the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. Together with patients, supporters, donors and volunteers, we work to create a healthier future for everyone. Because to take on cancer, it takes all of us. It takes a society.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society

For further information: Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society, 613-762-4624