Canada will soon require that health warnings be printed on individual cigarettes and cigars in a further crackdown on smoking, the country's addictions minister announced Wednesday.
The messaging, to be phased in starting August 1, will include lines such as "Poison in every puff," "Tobacco smoke harms children" and "Cigarettes cause cancer."
Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year. The new labeling rule is a world first, she said, although Britain has flirted with a similar regulation.
"This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable and, together with updated graphic images displayed on the package, will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking," Bennett said.
The Canadian government noted that some young people, who are particularly susceptible to the risk of tobacco dependence, start smoking after being given a single cigarette rather than a pack labeled with health warnings.
In 2000, Canada became the first country to order graphic warnings on packs of cigarettes — including grisly pictorials of diseased hearts and lungs — to raise awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use.
Smoking has been trending down over the past two decades.Ottawa aims to further reduce the number of smokers in the country to 5% of the population, or about 2 million people, by 2035, from about 13% currently.
According to government data, almost half of the country's health care costs are linked to substance use.