Media Release

Canada to have the world’s best tobacco plain packaging requirements


The Canadian Cancer Society is commending the new national regulations for tobacco plain packaging as the most effective in the world. The regulations were released today by Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

“We strongly support the regulations released today as they are essential for protecting Canadian kids from tobacco industry marketing,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “Tobacco is addictive and deadly and should not be sold in packages made to be more attractive. Tobacco packaging should not function as mini-billboards promoting tobacco use.”

“Canada’s plain packaging regulations will be the best and most comprehensive in the world,” adds Cunningham. “We appreciate the global leadership being demonstrated by Minister Petitpas Taylor in bringing these regulations forward.”

The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for tobacco plain packaging regulations since the 1990s. In 1994, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health recommended plain packaging. Today’s announcement represents an enormous public health policy victory.

The regulations include the following provisions:

  • Applying the regulations to packaging of all tobacco products
  • Prohibiting brand colours, graphics and logos on packages, and requiring a drab brown colour to appear as the base colour for all brands; brand names can still appear on packages, but in a standard way for all brands; health warnings will remain on tobacco packages
  • Banning slim and superslim cigarettes, as well as stylish “purse packs” appealing to young women and girls
  • Banning cigarettes longer than 85 mm, meaning that “glamorous” 100 mm cigarettes will be banned
  • Requiring cigarette packages to be in a standardized slide and shell format, thus increasing warning size and effectiveness; special package formats will no longer be able to appear
  • Requiring the largest health warnings on cigarette packages in the world in terms of surface area
  • Prohibiting branding and other promotions on the cigarette itself, and requiring cigarettes to have a flat end without holes or recesses
  • Many other detailed measures.

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.

The regulations released today are subject to a 75-day consultation period. Once the regulations are finalized, tobacco manufacturers will be allowed a transition period to change their packages. Plain packaging is expected to be on store shelves at some point in 2019.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing more than 45,000 Canadians annually. It is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths and for $6.5 billion in annual health care costs.

Canada-wide, smokers can call the number on cigarette packages 1-866-366-3667 to receive proven and personalized support to quit smoking. The Canadian Cancer Society operates the quitline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, PEI, and the Yukon through Smokers’ Helpline and the ligne j’ARRÊTE in Quebec.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981