Single Cigarettes in Canada Will Be Inscribed With Warning

Source: : 2022-06-12 18:07:52 : Vjosa Isai

TORONTO — Every individual cigarette sold in Canada will carry a warning message under the terms of a new federal regulation intended to curb smoking, especially among young people, the country’s minister of mental health and addictions announced on Friday.

The individual warning label, said to be the first in the world, will supplement the warning messages already printed on cigarette boxes in Canada, a country where smoking rates have fallen sharply over the past few decades.

Young people who share cigarettes and don’t read the package labels would be able to see the health warning on individual cigarettes, said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Smoking is on the decline in the Canada, according to 2020 data from Statistics Canada, the national census agency, which showed a 3 percent drop between 2015 and 2019. The percentage of smokers in the country fell to 10 percent in 2020, per Statistics Canada. About half of all Canadians smoked in 1965, according to the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

But more than 20 billion cigarettes are sold each year in Canada, according to the Canadian Cancer Society and most of Canada’s 4.7 million smokers smoke cigarettes every day. While vaping is more frequent among younger Canadians, StatsCan data show that as of 2022, 4 percent of the country’s smokers were under the age of 19.

A spokesman for the Canadian subsidiary of tobacco giant Philip Morris International said the company supports Canada’s new regulation. “We share a common goal with Health Canada — eliminating cigarettes and making Canada smoke-free by 2035 or sooner,” said Jeff Gaulin, the spokesman for Rothmans, Benson and Hedges.

Health Canada, the nation’s health agency, is proposing that the warning “Poison in every puff” be printed on the cigarette paper around the filter.

Researchers expressed skepticism that the warnings would have a strong affect.

A better way to reduce youth smoking would be to decrease the availability of cigarettes, commonly sold at corner stores and gas stations in Canada, and raise taxes on them, said Robert Schwartz, the executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit and a professor at the University of Toronto.

Professor Schwartz supports the new regulations and said they “could have a moderate effect,” on youth smoking. But he added, “I’m not head over heels that this is going to solve our problem.” He said: “The truth is that most young people know that cigarettes are not good for you.”

“This is what I would call another incremental step, and if the government is really serious about ending tobacco, it knows what to do,” Professor Schwartz said.

Dr. Christopher Carlsten, a professor and head of the respiratory medicine division at the University of British Columbia, said he was not sure that the scientific literature backing the placement of a warning on each cigarette was “compelling.”

“But nonetheless, I certainly don’t see any harm,” he added. “And I would be predisposed to think that it’s likely helpful just based on the overall mass of literature on the benefits of warnings.”

Higher taxes help reduce smoking rates, and Canada has some of the highest cigarette taxes in the world, according to a 2020 cigarette tax scorecard published by Tobacconomics, a research organization in Chicago. Australia and New Zealand both rank first on the scorecard.

Though the new regulations have not been adopted, their approval by Canada’s health minister is certain.

Cigarette boxes and packaging are also getting an overhaul under the new regulations, which will require additional health risks to be listed on the box, as well as new photos of ailments linked to smoking.

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