Canada could soon become the first country in the world to require cigarette manufacturers to include warnings about the dangers of tobacco on individual cigarettes.

The federal government has launched a consultation process looking at regulations around warnings on tobacco products.

One of the most significant ideas being floated in the consultation is a new requirement for “smoking causes cancer” or similar wording to be included on individual cigarettes. Currently, Canada only mandates that such warnings be placed on or inside cigarette packaging.

“There is recent but limited research showing that health warnings placed directly on a product, such as cigarettes, could be effective in making the product less appealing to users,” a government consultation document reads.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, describes the proposal as a “logical next step” for health warning requirements.

“It’s an incredibly cost-effective way to reach every smoker every day with the health message,” he told

In addition to potentially causing people to rethink their cigarette use, Cunningham sees a benefit for law enforcement in the proposal. He said it would make it easier for police to detect illegally produced cigarettes, which authorities believe to be a major player in Canada’s tobacco industry.

The government is also looking at requiring warning labels on cigarette packages to change every year. Federally mandated warning labels were last modified in 2012.

“It’s already been six years since the last warnings appeared. To keep them fresh increases their impact,” Cunningham said.

Other ideas under consideration include adding brighter colours and eye-catching cartoons to existing warning labels and ensuring the various warnings on each package follow the same theme and deliver the same message.

Labels may also become mandatory for tobacco products which do not currently need them, including water pipe tobacco and heated tobacco products.

The proposals are open to public feedback until Jan. 4, 2019.

The federal government estimates that 45,000 Canadians die due to smoking-related health issues each year.