Health Canada is considering putting labels on individual cigarettes.
According to a consultation report released by the government agency, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature death in Canada. Every year, more than 45,000 Canadians die from illnesses caused by smoking, and Health Canada says that in a single year, smoking costs are over $6.5 billion for direct health care and $16.2 billion in combined health and economic costs.
In May 2018, the Government of Canada announced Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, an enhanced federal strategy to address tobacco use.
The federal strategy includes $80.5 million in new funding over five years. With that, the government is committed to reducing tobacco use to less than 5% of Canadians by 2035.
One of the key initiatives under this new strategy is the renewal of health messages for tobacco packaging.
“Health information on tobacco products is recognized as one of the best approaches to tell people about the health risks of tobacco use,” states the Health Canada report. “The current labelling requirements for cigarettes and little cigars have been in place since 2011.”
Following recent “limited research,” Health Canada is considering placing warnings directly on products, such as an individual cigarette.
This, they say, “could be effective in making the product less appealing to users.”
A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research last year supports Health Canada’s claim.
“The cigarette stick is the object of tobacco consumption, which is seen every time a cigarette is smoked. It is also an increasingly important promotional tool for tobacco companies,” stated the UK study. “Our findings suggest that it may be possible to reduce the desirability of cigarette sticks by altering their design, for example, with the addition of a warning or use of an unattractive colour.”
Health Canada’s labelling proposals are open to public feedback until January 4, 2019.