New regulations prohibit distinctive packaging for tobacco products in Canada

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Smokers can expect to find their next pack of cigarettes looking a lot plainer than usual.

Starting Saturday, November 9, new federal regulations will require all tobacco products in Canada to be stripped of any distinctive or attractive features on their packaging, instead transitioning to a standardized appearance in a drab shade of brown.

These regulations, which were detailed back in May, are meant to restrict the appeal certain harmful products can have based on their packaging.

“Tobacco packages, and the products they contain, are powerful promotional vehicles for the tobacco industry to communicate brand imagery and to attract new tobacco users,” Health Canada says.

“Research has shown that plain and standardized packaging reduces the appeal and attractiveness of tobacco products, especially to youth. This has been demonstrated in research conducted on both non-smokers and smokers in numerous countries, including Canada.”

Cigarette packaging will be standardized to a slide-and-shell format, and the appearance of cigarettes and other tobacco products will also be standardized.

In addition, only permitted text may be displayed on the packages in a standard location, font, colour, and size.

“Some studies indicate that health warnings were more noticeable and effective when displayed on plain packages than when displayed on branded packages.”

Requiring plain packaging for tobacco products isn’t exactly a new trend — within the past few years, other countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway, and New Zealand have implemented similar measures.

These regulations are considered a key milestone in Canada's Tobacco Strategy, which aims to drive down tobacco use to 5% of the Canadian population by 2035.

For a detailed overview of these new regulations, click here.

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