Tobacco control is a significant issue worldwide. In effects to tackle this issue, the Canadian government introduced new national regulations, implementing a plain and standardised appearance for all tobacco packaging and certain tobacco products (Government of Canada 2018). Under these regulations, all tobacco packaging must have a consistent overall appearance in terms of font and colour as well as standardised size and shape (Government of Canada 2018). Furthermore, brand colours, logos and other images are also no longer permitted (Government of Canada 2018). These new designs are expected to be seen on store shelves from 2019 (Cunningham 2018).
This transdisciplinary initiative imposes a variety of costs on the tobacco industry and government of Canada, estimated to range from $138-$195 million in total (Government of Canada 2018). However, the warning labels proves to be an extremely cost-effective educational intervention when compared to other measures such as mass media campaigns (Thrasher et al. 2007).
Under the public health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) adopted by World Health Organisation, it is insisted that warning information in the form of image, text or both must consist of at least 30% of the front and back of cigarette packaging (Kees et al. 2006). As a party of FCTC, Canada already includes both visual warnings of graphic disease and text warnings (Hammond et al. 2007), proving to be extremely effective as the visual messages can reach the illiterate population (Thrasher et al. 2007) whilst provoking negative emotions such as fear and anxiety (Kees et al. 2006). Furthermore, research showed that the health warning is effective as Canadian smokers reported higher levels of awareness when compared to the United States, which only include text warnings on packages (Hammond et al. 2007).
The visual text warnings coupled with the new plain packaging regulations are expected to be a success, proving to be the world’s “best and most comprehensive” plain packaging requirements (Cunningham 2018). Furthermore, research projects funded by Ontario Tobacco Research Unit suggests that ‘plain’ packaging may reduce brand appeal and thus susceptibility to smoking among young women (Doxey & Hammond 2011). Findings also suggest that standardised cigarette packaging may decrease demand and reduce misleading insights about product harm among the young (Kotnowski et al. 2016). Although the full results from this initiative is yet to be seen, the Canadian Cancer Society is already commending the new tobacco plain packaging as the most effective worldwide (Cunningham 2018).
Cunningham, R. 2018, ‘Canada to have the world’s best tobacco plain packaging requirements’, Canada Cancer Society, viewed 10 January 2019, <http://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2018/canadian-plain-packaging-requirements/?region=on>.
Doxey, J. & Hammond, D. 2011, ‘Deadly in pink: the impact of cigarette packaging among young women’, Tobacco Control, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 353-360.
Government of Canada 2018, Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 153, Number 25: Tobacco Products Regulations (Plain and Standarized Appearance), Canada, viewed 9 January 2019, <http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2018/2018-06-23/html/reg9-eng.html>.
Hammond, D., Fong, G., Borland, R., Cummings, M., McNeill, A., Driezen, P. 2007, ‘Text and graphic warnings on cigarette packages: findings from the international tobacco control four country study’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 202-209.
Kees, J., Burton, S., Andrews, C. & Kozup, J. 2006, ‘Tests of graphic visuals and cigarette package warning combinations: implications for the framework convention on tobacco control’, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 212-223.
Kotnowski, K., Fong, G., Gallopel-Morvan, K., Islam, T., Hammond, D. 2016, ‘The impact of cigarette packaging design among young females in Canada: findings from a discrete choice experiment’, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 1348-1356.
Thrasher, J., Hammond, D., Fong, G., Arillo-Santillan, E. 2007, ‘Smokers’ reaction to cigarette package warnings with graphic imagery and with only text: a comparison between Mexico and Canada’, Salud Publica de Mexico, vol. 29, no. 2.
Angelillo, J. 2018, File Photo, UPI, viewed 10 Jan 2019, <https://www.upi.com/20-years-after-settlement-billions-in-anti-tobacco-funds-spent-elsewhere/8971543517818/>.
Directo, J. 2011, Cigarette Packaging, Sault Online, viewed 10 Jan 2019, <https://saultonline.com/2016/05/canada-moves-forward-on-plain-tobacco-packs/>.