Single cigarette warning in Canada: Heart & Stroke applauds the news

Annual exposures to warning messages are expected to increase from 7,300 to 58,000. “It’s going to be a daily reminder,” says a Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson.

The Canadian federal government has introduced a new mandate, which calls for improved messaging on tobacco products and packaging, including the addition of health warnings on individual tobacco items.

Updated messages on tobacco packaging have been slow to arrive, says Manuel Arango, director of policy and advocacy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“The reality is that the warnings on tobacco packages had not been updated since 2011. And for many other tobacco products, they have remained unchanged since 2000.”

Although the message has not been confirmed, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett told a news conference last Friday (June 10) that the working phrase printed on the cigarettes is “Poison in every puff.”

The consultation period begins on Saturday and the government hopes to implement the mandate by the end of 2023.

The new individual product warning is a big deal, a “measure of global precedent,” Arango said.

“This is going to be very, very helpful. The reason for this is that having cigarette warnings will increase the number of annual warning message exposures from 7,300 to 58,000 per year. It will be a daily reminder .”

Dr. Shimi Kang, associate clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, agrees that this is a big step forward.

“Research shows that consistent messaging helps. Visual messaging can also help – not everyone is a reader. And so images can be very powerful. On that note, there is evidence of benefits in a certain extent.”

Kang notes that prevention strategies such as educating young people must also be part of the public health campaign.

“In my experience, [smoking] is really related to mental health. Seventy percent of all addictions are part of an untreated mental health problem. So providing emotional learning, like skills for emotional regulation, social skills, mental health literacy, all of that can have an impact as well,” he says. “When we look at the bigger picture, when we teach kids how to deal with stress and manage their lives, we see them turning less to behaviors like nicotine.”

Although Arango recognizes that education is necessary, this factor also has its limits.

“It’s a start, but in itself it has to be combined with these other things such as raising taxes, raising age limits and then the smoke-free generation policy which will add and build on that education that could happen in schools.”

Reducing Smoking Among Canadians

A Statistics Canada report reveals that the overall percentage of cigarette smokers in Canada is declining. He also notes that about 10% of Canadians are regular smokers.

The updated warnings and new messaging strategy are part of the Canadian government’s long-term plan to reduce the number of regular smokers to 5% by 2035.

And when the government achieves that goal, Arango says a smoke-free generation policy will be another important measure to implement.

“Twenty years from now, if someone is born in 2030, they will start banning cigarettes for people born in that year, and beyond.”

Although Canada has not implemented this policy, New Zealand recently introduced and enacted it, prohibiting anyone 14 and under from purchasing tobacco products.

It’s a policy that’s being discussed among advocacy groups like Heart & Stroke. But since the prevalence rate in British Columbia is just over 10% and it is 13% in Canada, a blanket ban on tobacco products is not possible.

“When you have prevalence rates at those rates, it’s not possible to ban because if we banned tobacco products and sales, there would be black market issues. I think for a lot of advocates from tobacco control, they’re just expecting those rates less than five percent. And then that’s a policy that should be considered,” Arango says.

He also notes that this policy invites consideration of two issues.

“Once you get down to less than five percent – and we don’t know what the number is, whether it’s four or 3.5 percent – then is it possible to ban smoking? And then the question next would be for those 3.5 or four percent who still smoke, what else can be done to help them cope with nicotine addiction?”

And while Arango is happy to see the proposed mandate and improvements to messaging, he stresses that it’s important for governments to do more.

“We always encourage the federal government and the provincial governments not to lose sight of the fact that we really need to focus on reducing tobacco consumption, because if we stop focusing on that, it can rebound very easily. It’s about keeping our eyes on the prize, and really focusing on exploring new measures to reduce tobacco use. »

About Margaret Shaw

Check Also

Premier Manufacturing launches a new look for 1839 cigarettes

Photo courtesy of US Tobacco Cooperative RALEIGH, North Carolina — Premier Manufacturing launches a new …