The government of Canada has now introduced the Tobacco Products Regulations (Plain and Standardized Appearance) which is to come into effect later this year.
These regulations are to be implemented in two phases:
The final regulations impact various tobacco product categories, including:
Cigars and little cigars
All tobacco products sold in Canada (manufactured cigarettes, loose tobacco products, tubes, rolling papers and tobacco heating products) will see their packaging standardized and changed.
All cigarettes must be white, and the tipping paper must be white or imitate a cork pattern with a matte finish.
May 2018: Amendment to the Tobacco Act (Bill S-5) issued now called Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.
June 2018: Release of draft regulations.
At Imperial Tobacco Canada, we have always been clear about our position on tobacco regulations. We support regulations that are: based on robust evidence and thorough research; respect established rights; do not infringe on the livelihoods of Canadians; and deliver on intended policy goals. Plain and standardized tobacco products and packaging does not deliver the intended results in any of these areas.
There are a number of reasons why we think plain packaging is not the solution.
Some people think that the colours, designs and trademarks used on cigarette packs make them more appealing, particularly to young people. However, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that plain packs are effective in discouraging young people from smoking, encouraging existing smokers to quit or preventing quitters from taking up smoking again. In December 2012, Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging. After five years, it is clear that plain packaging is not achieving its primary policy objective of reducing the incidence of smoking. The Australian Government’s own data shows no significant decline in the Australian smoking rate between 2013 and 2016. This is the first time in over two decades that no statistically significant decline was recorded.
There has, however, been a significant increase in the size of the illegal tobacco market – the criminals behind this illegal trade are now profiting at the expense of Australian taxpayers, with the government losing around AUS$1.6 billion in tax revenue annually. We believe there are more effective ways of addressing smoking rates, such as targeted youth anti-smoking programs and better enforcement of existing laws governing the sale of products to young people.
Another important reason why we oppose plain packaging is that we consider it to be unlawful. This is because it involves governments taking property from businesses – in this case, our trademarks and other intellectual property – without paying for it. This is illegal under the laws of many countries around the world. A properly functioning consumer goods market relies on having clearly differentiated brands with different quality and price positioning. These differentiating features are all provided by brand trademarks, which enable existing adult smokers to differentiate between brands. Trademarks and branding also provide quality assurance for consumers and retailers – Plain and standardized tobacco products removes this assurance. International trade law requires countries to respect and protect trademarks. This is why four countries – Cuba, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia – are challenging Australia’s plain packaging laws before the World Trade Organization. A few other countries – including the UK, Ireland and France – have introduced plain packaging legislation. However, decisions in one country do not set a precedent for other governments to introduce plain packaging. No two jurisdictions are the same, and any government considering plain packaging will need to ensure that it complies with the fundamental rights of businesses, as protected both by the laws of that country and internationally, while also being mindful of the ongoing World Trade Organization dispute on plain packaging.
Adult smokers are fully aware of the risks of smoking and can make their own decisions on whether they want to smoke or not. Plain and standardized tobacco products regulates not just branding on the packs but aspects of the cigarette itself.
Click here to read the full Tobacco Products Regulations.