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In a world first, king-size cigarettes in Canada must feature one of these warnings starting Tuesday

An example of cigarette packaging with expanded warnings. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press) An example of cigarette packaging with expanded warnings. (Justin Tang / The Canadian Press)

Tobacco manufacturers have until Tuesday to ensure every king-size cigarette produced for sale in Canada has a health warning printed directly on it.

The new advisories appear on the filter portion of each cigarette and warn people in English and French of their ability to cause impotence, leukemia and organ damage.

It's a novel approach to smoking dissuasion. When new labelling rules came into effect on Aug. 1, 2023, Canada became the first country in the world to require companies to print warnings on each cigarette.

Ottawa gave tobacco companies and retailers a series of rolling deadlines to implement the rules. Tuesday's deadline affects manufacturers with regard to king-size cigarettes only. The rule will apply to smaller, regular-size cigarettes on Jan. 31, 2025.

Retailers can carry king-size cigarettes without the new labels until July 31, 2024, and April 30, 2025, for the regular ones.

Once fully implemented, every cigarette sold in Canada will feature one of these six warnings:

  • Cigarettes damage your organs;
  • Cigarettes cause cancer;
  • Tobacco smoke harms children;
  • Cigarettes cause impotence;
  • Cigarettes cause leukemia; or
  • Poison in every puff.

"It's going to prompt discussion, not just people on their smoke breaks, but children at home," said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, in an interview with

"Different messages resonate with different people," he said. "Impotence will resonate with some people, 'Poison in every puff' will resonate with others."

The organization says cigarette smoke is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 46,000 Canadians each year. Just under one in three cancer deaths is due to tobacco use, it says, and one in 10 Canadians over 12 years old smokes.

The Canadian Cancer Society hopes the new labelling rules contribute to its goal of reducing smoking to 5 per cent by 2035.

"I do expect other countries to do it," Cunningham added. "The tobacco industry opposed it and that shows we're going in the right direction."

Cunningham's organization supports raising the federal minimum age required to buy tobacco products to 21.

He also wants their sale prohibited in corner stores and gas stations, "so it's not an everyday product, like newspapers or milk."

He believes tobacco products should be available only in specialty shops, like cannabis.

A warning on the outside of a pack of cigarettes in Canada. (Image source: Government of Canada)

On cigarette packages, Ottawa also recently mandated a series of new, grisly images depicting the health effects of smoking.

In 2001, Canada became the first country to require picture warnings on the outside of packages and small flyers with health messages inside them.

With files from The Associated Press. Top Stories

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