In places where most or all traditional forms of advertising have been prohibited, including Canada, the tobacco package has become the last bastion of tobacco promotion. Three decades ago, tobacco companies foresaw the day when advertising would be banned and the pack alone would have to “convey the total product message” (British American Tobacco, 1979).
Canada has been a world leader in requiring tobacco companies to provide—on the package itself—critical information about the health consequences of tobacco use. Research shows that large graphic health warnings on packs are an effective vehicle in communicating health risk information and in detracting from the industry’s use of design features—colours, graphics, logos, embossing, fonts—to communicate positive brand images.
As of 19 June 2012, all packages of cigarettes and little cigars sold at retail in Canada must display one of the 16 new warnings that occupy 75% of the front and back faces.