POST B: Canada’s Successful Plain Packaging Policy

Tobacco is one of the largest health issues around the world. Different countries have different ways to deal with this issue. The Canadian government is commending a new top-down national regulations for tobaccoplain packaging which they claimed as the most effective in the world (Cunningham 2018). It pointed out some interesting regulations, one of them is requiring the largest health warnings with disturbing images on cigarette packages in terms of surface area (Cunningham 2018). The aim to this regulation is to show people that smoking is dangerous and it’s not something to be proud or being exclusive about, it rather can lead to different diseases which can harm their life.

On the left, are what cigarette packages used to look like before a plain packaging law was passed, resulting in the new look on the right. (David Hammond/University of Waterloo)

Research suggests that warning labels with prominent graphic elements are more effective than text-only messages in engaging smokers, promoting quitting, and impeding “wear-out” that results from habituation to messages (Thrasher et al. 2007). Evidence from Brazil suggests that once graphic warnings were implemented there (2002), the number of calls to quit lines advertised on warning labels increased significantly, and two-thirds of smokers reported that the graphic warning labels increased their desire to quit smoking (Thrasher et al. 2007). Making a new regulation in the packaging is definitely the right move since tobacco packaging serves as an integral component of tobacco marketing (Department of Health Studies & Gerontology 2010). The pack provides a direct link between consumers and manufacturers. It is extremely cost-effective and educational at the same time. The cost of the packaging transition period will be fully funded by cigarettes company individually. The challenge that arise is that the tobacco industry strongly opposed this idea as they know plain packaging will harm their sales (CBC News 2016).

As a result of this regulation, 30 campuses were 100% smoke-free and 10 years prior, in 2007, only 4 were 100% smoke-free (Cunningham 2018). The success of the plain packaging in Canada shows that this method could be applied universally. Health Minister Jane Philpott said that the plain packaging is essential to help young people to make smart choices to stop smoking or never to start. To date, eight countries have finalized requirements for plain packaging: Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway, Hungary and Slovenia. Many more countries are also developing requirements. Plain packaging is recommended by the World Health Organization as an effective tobacco control measure (Cunningham 2018). As this method is proven successful in many countries, this method might also work in Central Java to decrease the number of smokers there. As I was born and raised in Java, I could understand the trend of smoking always start as a curiosity or to feel exclusive. Tobacco companies made advertisement to assume people that can smoke are privileged thus, forcing mostly uneducated underage kids to try smoking and eventually got addicted. Buying cigarette in Indonesia is also really easy. Most of the time they don’t check the IDs that makes cigarette easily accessible to everyone. I believe by using this regulation, people can be more educated and scared to even try to smoke.

Reference List:

CBC News 2016, ‘Health Canada will hold public consultations on plain tobacco packages’, CBC News, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.

Cunningham, R. 2018, ‘Canada to have the world’s best tobacco plain packaging requirements’, Canada Cancer Society, viewed 19 November 2019, <;.

Cunningham, R. 2018, ‘Canadian Cancer Society report shows 65 university and college campuses in Canada are 100% smoke-free’, Canada Cancer Society, viewed 19 November 2019, <;.

Hammond, D. 2010, ‘”Plain packaging” regulations for tobacco products: the impact of standardizing the color and design of cigarette packs’, Scielo, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.

Thrasher, J.F., Hammond, D., Fong, G.T., Arillo-Santillán, E. 2007, Smokers’ reactions to cigarette package warnings with graphic imagery and with only text: A comparison between Mexico and Canada’, Mediagraphic Articulo, viewed 19 November 2019, <>.

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