Minister Philpott Launches Public Consultations on Tobacco Plain Packaging

News Release

Measures would regulate the size and shape of tobacco products and require standardized colour and font

May 31, 2016 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

Tobacco-related illnesses will claim the lives of 37,000 Canadians this year, and preventing children and youth from starting to smoke is an opportunity to improve the life of Canadian families, and reduce healthcare costs.

Tobacco packages have become powerful promotional vehicles for the tobacco industry. That's why the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, met with local Ottawa high school students today, on World No Tobacco Day, to officially launch public consultations on plain packaging requirements for tobacco products.

The Government of Canada has committed to introducing plain packaging as part of its continued efforts to protect Canadians against the dangers of tobacco use, which includes the recently announced ban on menthol cigarettes. Over 5 million Canadian still use tobacco, and tobacco use costs almost $4.4 billion in annual direct health care costs in Canada.

Plain packaging measures would regulate the size and shape of products, and require a uniform, standardized colour and font on all packages. Research has shown that plain packaging measures, including the removal of logos, textures, colours and brand images, helps make tobacco products less attractive and therefore less appealing, including to youth.

The World Health Organization hosts World No Tobacco Day annually, and this year organizers are calling on countries to get ready for plain packaging. Today's announcement brings Canada into closer alignment with countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, which have already introduced plain packaging requirements.

The consultation period will continue until August 31, 2016. Canadians are encouraged to participate and share their views on potential plain packaging elements by completing the online questionnaire or submitting them by regular mail or email. The information gathered during the consultation process will be considered in the development of new regulations for these products.

Quick Facts

  • Despite decades of efforts, each year, 87,000 Canadians become daily smokers. There are still over 5 million tobacco users in Canada, including 4.2 million current smokers.
  • The vast majority of smokers begin by adolescence or young adulthood. In Canada, 85% of adult daily smokers had smoked their first cigarette by the age of 18.
  • Previously introduced measures requiring that pictorial health warnings cover 75% of the front and back panels of cigarette and little cigar packages will still be in place when plain packaging measures are introduced.


"I don't believe tobacco companies should be allowed to build brand loyalty with children, for a product that could kill them. Research shows that plain packaging of tobacco products is an effective way to deter people from starting to smoke and will bolster our efforts to reduce tobacco use in Canada. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Canada, and we are committed to fighting this issue from all sides." 
Jane Philpott

Minister of Health

"Plain packaging is a key tobacco control measure to protect youth and to advance public health.  Tobacco packages should not be mini-billboards used for tobacco promotion. We strongly support implementation of plain packaging in Canada, just as so many other countries have done or are in the process of doing."
Rob Cunningham
Canadian Cancer Society

Associated Links


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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