August 1, 2023 – Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said the labels are meant to discourage teens from picking up the habit as well as to aid those looking to help family members kick the addiction, as reported by CTV News.

“For youth who experiment by ‘borrowing’ a cigarette from a friend, it’s going to mean they will see the cigarettes — even if they may not see the package — where the warnings appear,” Cunningham told CTV News.

“It’s going to prompt discussion, including by smokers during smoke breaks: ‘What warning have you got today?’ Often it’s kids who are urging their parents to quit, and this provides new information and messaging,” he added.

Tobacco promotion, advertising and sponsorship have been banned in Canada since 1972 and pictorial warnings of the diseases associated with smoking were implemented in 2001. But despite all the effort, then-health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement on May 31 that tobacco use remains the country’s leading preventable cause of death and premature death.

Some smokers said while the warnings are visually impactful, they do not deter them from continuing the habit.

“I don’t think that will really change much. A lot of people will continue to smoke,” Giovany Lincourt, a smoker from Montreal, told CTV News. “When I see a photo of a black lung, it hits me, but I still continue because it’s a bad habit.”

Instead, he said that increasing taxes would be more convincing for him, as he currently spends between $400 to $500 on cigarettes a month.

The warning labels were created after a 75-day consultation period last year. Canada aims to reduce tobacco use from around 10% currently to 5% by 2035.