Mar 2021 | Plain Packaging for Tobacco Products in Canada: Evidence of Policy Impact from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project | English

Impact of Plain Packaging in Canada

Tobacco plain packaging regulations were implemented at the retail level in Canada in February 2020 as one of a comprehensive suite of policies to help reach the target of less than 5% tobacco use by 2025 under Canada’s Tobacco Strategy.

This report presents findings on the impact of plain packaging in Canada based on data collected from 4600 adult smokers before (2018) and after (2020) the introduction of plain packaging at the retail level. Data from Canada are also presented in context with data from up to 25 other ITC Project countries — including Australia, England, France, and New Zealand, where plain packaging has also been implemented.

Key findings of the report:

Plain packaging substantially decreased appeal of cigarette packs

  • After the introduction of plain packaging in Canada, 45% of smokers reported that they disliked the look of their cigarette pack, compared to 29% before the law

Unlike other ITC countries that introduced new pictorial warnings at the same time as plain packaging, the salience of Canada’s 8-year old pictorial warnings did not increase after plain packaging

  • Canada did not implement changes to its large pictorial health warnings (PHWs) at the time of implementation of plain packaging. Findings from other ITC countries that introduced new, larger PHWs at the same time as plain packaging suggest that plain packaging is likely to have the strongest impact on increasing health warning salience when it is implemented in combination with new and larger PHWs.

Smokers’ support for plain packaging increased after its implementation

  • 35% of smokers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that tobacco companies should be required to sell cigarettes in plain packages, compared to 26% before the law

This report is also available in French