Imperial Canada opposes plain packs

| September 2, 2016

In opposing a proposal to impose standardized tobacco packaging in Canada, Imperial Tobacco Canada has warned, in part, that such packaging will give a boost to a well-established illegal cigarette trade.

On Wednesday, Imperial made an official submission to Health Canada detailing its opposition to the Liberal government’s standardized-packaging proposal.

The government announced on May 31 its intention to introduce legislation requiring that tobacco products be sold in standardized packaging; and a three-month public consultation period began on the same day.

“Our reasons are clear and strong,” said Tamara Gitto, the company’s vice president of legal and external affairs. “The government’s consultation and legislative process is flawed. At the core plain packaging is unlawful, the suggested legislative changes are fraught with problems, and plain packaging will only exacerbate an already embedded illegal tobacco market.”

In a press note, Imperial said that Canada was already facing a contraband tobacco crisis with illicit products making up almost 20 percent of tobacco products. Standardized packaging would lead to an increase in Canada’s already rampant illicit tobacco production and trade, as indicated by the experience in Australia.

This would actually undermine public health objectives. The government had reversed the legislative process, which was designed to protect Canadians against excessive and restrictive regulation.

“The government made up its mind that plain packaging is what it wants to do,” said Gitto. “It is using the legislative process as a self-justification exercise, not as the checks and balances process that it is intended to be.”

In addition, the company said it believed that standardized packaging amounted to a deprivation of substantial intellectual property rights and constituted a clear violation of freedom of expression, a right so fundamental it had been entrenched in the Canadian Constitution.

The government had no justification for undermining the Constitution. Standardized packaging was not necessary given the multitude of tobacco control measures already in place in Canada, the widespread awareness of the risks of smoking and the existence of other more effective and less restrictive means to reduce smoking rates and protect youth.

“This is bad public health policy that is being driven, not by sound research and facts, but by public interest groups who are more anti-industry than pro-health,” said Gitto. “If the government was serious about the health of Canadians, it would acknowledge the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes and table clear regulations around these products.”

Category: Breaking News

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