Canada became the first country to implement picture-based health warnings on cigarette packages when they initiated the use of warnings in June 2001. Between 2001-2012, a set of 16 health warnings were rotated on packages. Cigarette packages were required to have a health warning cover 50% of the front and 50% of the back of the package (one side in English and the other side in French, the two official Canadian languages). In addition, 1 of 16 rotated messages were required to appear on the inside of each package, either on the slide or on an insert. Canada also required tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and benzene emission numbers to appear on the side of packages. Two numbers appeared from each emission: one from the ISO and one from the Health Canada machine smoking method.
In September 2011, Health Canada released a full set of 16 new exterior warnings, 8 interior messages, and 4 toxic emission messages for the side panel (shown below). The new health warning messages are required to cover 75% of the front and back of cigarette and little cigar packages. As of March 21, 2012, manufacturers and importers of cigarettes and/or cigars were prohibited from distributing products that did not display the new health warnings. Retailers were given 3 months to transition from the existing packages to those displaying the new messages. Effective June 19, 2012, retailers were only allowed to sell packages displaying the new health warnings.
Canada prohibits the terms “light” and “mild” from appearing on packages.
In January 2016, the Health Minister announced the federal government will be introducing new plain packaging requirements for tobacco products.
Legislation and Regulations
Canada’s Legislation Library
Health Warning Reports, Publications & Presentations
Canada’s Health Warning Document Library
Plain Packaging Reports, Publications & Presentations
Canada’s Plain Packaging Document Library
Tobacco Package Images
Canada’s Cigarette Package Gallery
March 2012 to Present – Cigarette Packages**
March 2012 to Present – Exterior Packaging of Little Cigars**
March 2012 to Present – Interior Messages**
March 2012 to Present – Toxic Emission Statements (Side Panel)**
2001 to 2012**
Other Warnings used in Testing and Development**
** The images contained in this gallery are subject to Canadian copyright laws. Any duplication, reproduction, or use without the express consent of said party is prohibited. Countries should be contacted individually for usage of images.