Facts about Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations

Disclaimer: This document is provided to facilitate compliance with the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) and the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations (TPAPLR). It is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the interpretation or application of the legislation. In the event of discrepancy between the legislation and this document, the legislation takes precedence. If a regulated party has questions about legal obligations or responsibilities under the Act or the TPAPLR, they should consult their own legal advisor. Health Canada reserves the right to modify this document as appropriate and without notice.

1. Implementation dates for the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations

The regulations set out the following dates for manufacturers and retailers to comply with the new packaging and labelling requirements for tobacco products.

Measure Manufacturers Retailers
New health-related messages on all tobacco product packages January 31, 2024 April 30, 2024
Health warnings on individual king size cigarettes April 30, 2024 July 31, 2024
Health warnings on individual regular size cigarettes, little cigars with tipping paper, and tubes January 31, 2025 April 30, 2025
New health information message placement on extended upper slide-flap of cigarette packages July 31, 2026 October 31, 2026

2. New measures included in the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations

The Regulations introduce the following new measures:

3. Modifications to existing legislation to accommodate the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations

To support implementation of the TPAPLR, three existing tobacco labelling and packaging regulations are consolidated into one single set of regulations:

Additionally, Schedule 1 of the TVPA, which sets out prohibited additives, is amended through the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, to harmonize the requirements applying to the use of colouring agents.

4. Modifications to appearance and packaging requirements under the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations

Appearance and packaging requirements under the TPAPLR (previously known as the Tobacco Products Regulations (Plain and Standardized Appearance)) remain largely unchanged.

Modifications to these requirements are minor and of a technical nature. For more detail, the full text of the regulations are available here.

5. Exception to the minimum 75% display area of health warnings (HW) on tobacco product packages

More than 99% of all tobacco products sold in Canada are required to display a HW that covers at least 75% of the package display area as a result of the new requirements. Individually wrapped cigars sold in a clear overwrap are permitted to display a HW that is between 50%-75% of the display area.

Packaging for two or more individually wrapped cigars sold in a clear overwrap come in many sizes. Cigars are often hand rolled, which results in slight inconsistencies in size. The number of cigars in each overwrap may also vary, resulting in a wide range of package sizes. Due to the size of these packages, a HW that is between 50%-75% of the display area is large and prominently displayed and is well above the 30% minimum size required by Article 11 of the FCTC, of which Canada is a Party.

6. Frequency of updates to health-related messages

While it is difficult to predict how often Health Canada may implement a change in health-related messages, any changes to the Source Document will be communicated to industry stakeholders at least eight months ahead of time and will coincide with a scheduled rotation.

7. When to comply with the Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations rotation scheme for all health-related messages

The TPAPLR set out a rotation scheme to enhance the novelty and relevance of the health-related messages on tobacco packages and the health warnings on individual cigarettes, little cigars with tipping paper, and tubes. Please refer to sections 88, 94, 100 and 118 of the TPAPLR for further details (note that these sections have been appended below).

Labelling on Tobacco Packages – Required Information

Health warnings – rotation

88 (2) The health warnings that are set out in the source document for each type of tobacco product must be used in rotation, beginning on the day on which these Regulations come into force, with each of the rotations set out in the source document being applicable during the following periods:

(a) in the case of cigarettes, little cigars, cigarette tobacco and tubes, 24 months; and
(b) in the case of any other type of tobacco product, 36 months.

First rotation

(3) Despite paragraph (2)(a), in the case of cigarettes, little cigars, cigarette tobacco and tubes, the first rotation of health warnings applies during the period that begins on the day on which these Regulations come into force and ends on July 31, 2026.

Health information messages – rotation

94 (2) The health information messages that are set out in the source document for each type of tobacco product referred to in subsection (1) must be used in rotation, beginning on the day on which these Regulations come into force, with each of the rotations set out in the source document being applicable during a period of 24 months.

First rotation

(3) Despite subsection (2), the first rotation of health information messages applies during the period that begins on the day on which these Regulations come into force and ends on July 31, 2026.

Toxicity information – rotation

100 (2) The labelling elements related to toxicity information that are set out in the source document for each type of tobacco product must be used in rotation, beginning on the day on which these Regulations come into force, with each of the rotations set out in the source document being applicable during the following periods:

(a) in the case of cigarettes, little cigars, cigarettes tobacco and tubes, 24 months; and
(b) in the case of any other tobacco product, 36 months.

First rotation

(3) Despite paragraph 2(a), in the case of cigarettes, little cigars, cigarette tobacco and tubes, the first rotation of labelling elements related to toxicity information applies during the period that begins on the day on which these Regulations come into force and ends on July 31, 2026.

Labelling on Tobacco Products – Required Information

Health warnings – rotation

118 (2) The health warnings that are set out in the source document for each type of tobacco product referred to in subsection (1) must be used in rotation, beginning on the day on which these Regulations come into force, with each of the rotations set out in the source document being applicable during a period of 24 months.

First rotation

(3) Despite subsection (2), the first rotation of health warnings applies during the period that begins on the day on which these Regulations come into force and ends July 31, 2026.

8. Location of the excise stamp on the package of a tobacco product

The Excise Act, 2001 and its regulations, which are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, continue to apply for tobacco products. Section 4.2 of the Stamping and Marking of Tobacco and Cannabis Products Regulations prescribes manner of affixing an excise stamp to a package, that is:

9. Re-packaging of tobacco products that have entered the duty-paid market

Once entered into the duty-paid market, the Excise Act, 2001 does not permit "re-packaging" to re-wrap and re-stamp or re-wrap and reapply tobacco markings to finished packaged tobacco products, nor does the Excise Act, 2001 provide for a refund.

10. No pre-approval of package designs by Health Canada

Health Canada does not pre-approve package designs. It is the responsibility of regulated parties to understand and comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations, including the requirements set out in the TPAPLR. Regulated parties are invited to seek the advice of a legal counsel to assist them in interpreting legislation. Health Canada does develop and publish targeted resource materials to build awareness of the legal requirements among manufacturers and other regulated parties. Information regarding compliance promotion activities, which may include webinars or technical briefings, is shared with these parties when available.

11. Application of Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations (TPAPLR) to tobacco products "intended for retail sale in Canada", including, duty-free shops, trans-border stores, ships' stores, and to Canadian tobacco products sold in duty-free stores

The TPAPLR apply to every tobacco product and to any package that contains a tobacco product that is intended for retail sale in Canada. Please refer to subsections 2(1) and (2) of the TPAPLR, copied here, for information on appearance, packaging and labelling requirements:

2 (1) These Regulations apply to every tobacco product that is intended for retail sale in Canada, as well as to any package that contains such a tobacco product.

(2) Part 1 also applies, in accordance with section 60, to a package that does not contain a tobacco product but is furnished by a manufacturer of a tobacco product so that a tobacco product, primary package or secondary package may be placed in it after the tobacco product, primary package or secondary package is sold at retail in Canada.

Further, please note that the term "retailer" is defined in section 2 of the TVPA, as follows:

retailer means a person who is engaged in a business that includes the sale of tobacco products or vaping products to consumers.

The Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations can be found at https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2019-107/FullText.html

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