The messages will be phased in from 1 August and will include phrases such as "Poison in every puff", "Tobacco smoke harms children" and "Cigarettes cause cancer".

48,000 Canadians continue to die each year from smoking, said in a statement the Minister of Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, noting that Canada was "the first country in the world" to implement such a measure.

A similar bill was debated in the British parliament in 2022, without success.

"With this bold move, health warnings will be virtually inevitable and will be a stark reminder of the health consequences of smoking, along with the updated images displayed on the packaging," the minister said.

To justify this measure, the Canadian government says it has found that some young people, particularly sensitive to the risk of tobacco addiction, start smoking after receiving a single cigarette rather than a pack with health warnings.

In 2000, Canada was the first country to order pictorial warnings, including gruesome depictions of diseased hearts and lungs, on cigarette packages to raise awareness of the health risks associated with smoking.

Since then, smoking has seen a downward trend and Ottawa aims to further reduce the number of smokers in the country to 5% of the population, or about 2 million people, by 2035, from about 13% currently.

According to government data, nearly half of the country's health costs are related to the use of psychoactive substances.

© 2023 AFP