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New Canadian law puts warning labels on individual cigarettes

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As of today, Canada has become the first country in the world to print health warnings on individual cigarettes.

The government is hoping the new regulations will entice adults to quit, stop youth from smoking and non-tobacco users from using nicotine.

Among the messages: smoking causes cancer.

“They just took away a lot of printing on cigarettes so it just contradicts it and it’s kind of stupid if you ask me,” said smoker Oriley Lapalme.

The printed warnings will be phased-in. King-size cigarettes will be the first to feature individual health warnings. They’ll be sold by retailers in Canada by the end of July of next year, followed by regular-size cigarettes, little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by 2025.

Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society, welcomed the move.

“We’re delighted by this new regulation,” Cunningham said.

“Having a warning on every individual cigarette is going to reach every smoker, every day, with every single cigarette, with (every) puff, everywhere in the country. It’s going to be there during every smoke break. It has perfect reach.”

According to Health Canada, tobacco use kills about 48,000 Canadians every year. Terry Dean of the Canadian Lung Association said it’s important to get the message out, especially to young people.

“I think it’s maybe going to start some conversations that may not have happened otherwise,” Dean said.

“We know that with teens, not many of them buy cigarettes anymore but they still do borrow one off a friend, bum one off of a friend as well as adults who are trying to quit.”

While it may stop some from starting, smokers we talked to said those who are hooked will just find a way around it.

“They’re going to do it one way or the other,” Lapalme said.

“But I think they’re going to stop smoking cigarettes that have that on them so they’ll probably go to the reserves and get cigarettes that don’t have that.”

“If you’re a smoker you’re going to smoke anyways,” said another smoker, Gord White.

“It doesn’t matter (for people who already smoke), but for people coming up, yeah, don’t start smoking.”

The regulations will bring Canada into full compliance with the framework from the World Health Organization on Tobacco Control. 

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