Opinion: ‘Poison in every puff’

Photo/Health Canada/The Canadian Press via AP / This image provided by Health Canada shows the final wording of six separate warnings that will be printed directly on individual cigarettes as Canada becomes the first in the world to take that step aimed at helping people quit the habit. The regulations take effect Aug. 1.

Imagine a man trying to suavely smoke in front of a woman — with the words "cigarettes cause impotence" stamped along the length of the actual cigarette.

Other health effects of smoking are more dire, of course, and Canadian smokers will soon see descriptions of half a dozen of them. Canada has announced it will require that and other warnings to be printed (in capital letters) on cigarette packaging and individual cigarettes. It's a creative way of reminding smokers of the dangers they're courting with literally every breath they take.

Among the messages that will be on each cigarette starting in early 2024: "Cigarettes cause cancer," "Cigarettes cause leukemia," "Cigarettes damage your organs," "Tobacco harms children," and the especially catchy "Poison in every puff."

"This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable," said Canadian health official Carolyn Bennett, according to The Washington Post. The labels, she said, "will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking."

For years the U.S. has lagged behind its northern neighbor in confronting the dangers of tobacco. Since 2021, Canada has required manufacturers to print graphic images of the health impacts of smoking on their packaging — think, a bald, dying woman — and later prevented manufacturers from using brightly colored packaging to distract from the messages.

U.S. regulators, meanwhile, didn't even try to impose rules like that on the impotence sticks ... er, cancer sticks ... until 2020, and it's been tied up in court since.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch