Media Release

Plain packaging regulations


The Canadian Cancer Society is applauding Canada’s global leadership with the adoption of new national regulations for tobacco plain packaging. The final regulations, announced today in Ottawa by Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor, are the most effective tobacco plain packaging requirements in the world.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada. By introducing comprehensive plain packaging, Canada is implementing a significant measure to reduce tobacco use and save lives.

“We strongly support the plain packaging regulations as they are essential to protect Canadian youth from tobacco companies,” 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.”

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, historic public health victory that has been achieved despite extensive tobacco industry opposition.

“Canada’s plain packaging regulations are the best and most comprehensive in the world,” adds Cunningham. “Health Minister Petitpas Taylor has demonstrated global leadership in bringing these final plain packaging regulations forward. Tobacco plain packaging will protect kids, prevent cancer and save lives.”

The final regulations include multiple world precedents, including the mandatory slide and shell format that will result in Canada having the largest surface area in the world for package health warnings. Canada will also have the strongest ban on slims cigarettes, thus eliminating a type of cigarette targeting women and associating smoking with slimness and fashionability.

The regulations, which apply to all tobacco products, include provisions such as:

  • 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
  • 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

There are now 14 countries that have finalized requirements for plain packaging. In addition to Canada, the countries are Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey, Uruguay, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Israel. At least 15 other countries and territories are working on plain packaging requirements. Plain packaging is recommended by the World Health Organization as an effective tobacco control measure.

The final regulations announced today have been subject to extensive consultations. Plain packaging will be implemented November 9, 2019 at the manufacturer level, and February 7, 2020 at the retail level.

Tobacco use kills more than 45,000 Canadians annually. The Canadian government has committed to reducing tobacco use among Canadians to less than 5% by 2035.

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, PEI, and the Yukon through Smokers’ Helpline and in Quebec through ligne j’ARRÊTE.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund ground-breaking research, provide trusted information about cancer, offer programs and services to help people with cancer and their families cope, and advocate to governments for important social change.

When you want to know more about cancer, visit 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

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