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Cigar Companies Lobby for Exemption From
Below is an Aug. 30, 2018 news release from the Small Guys Cigar Group, which represents many cigar companies in Canada, lobbying to have cigars exempted from plain packaging requirements. Here are some points in response:
• It is essential that plain packaging apply to all tobacco products. Otherwise loopholes will be created.
• Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Uruguay apply plain packaging to all tobacco products. If these countries can do it, then so can Canada.
• In France, which does not apply plain packaging to cigars, Marlboro and Lucky Strike cigarillos have been introduced to the market after the implementation of plain packaging. Thus this is a technique to promote Marlboro and Lucky Strike cigarettes in general.
• There are many flavoured cigars that remain in Canada, though some provinces ban flavours in all cigars. Federal regulations allow many cigars weighing 6g or more to be flavoured, as well as many cigars weighing more than 1.4g with port, rum, wine or whiskey flavours. Of the provinces with flavoured legislation, AB, ON, NS, NL exempt some flavoured cigars. BC and SK have no flavoured legislation.
• Allowing an exemption for pipe tobacco could be further exploited. Products described as “pipe tobacco” could really be roll-your-own tobacco with cigarette brand names, such as Export A or Next. In Ontario, which does not ban flavoured pipe tobacco, new products were introduced as flavoured “pipe tobacco”, but the products were really intended to be used in a different way to get around flavoured legislation. In the US, pipe tobacco has a lower tax rate, prompting the marketing of “pipe tobacco” when the real purpose is roll-your-own tobacco.
• There is substantial smoking of cigars. The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey for the 2016-17 school year found that 6.4% of students in grades 10-12 had smoked cigars in the previous 30 days, compared with 10.1% for the smoking of cigarettes.
• Health Canada’s objective is to discourage use of all tobacco products, with the objective of under 5% tobacco use by 2035. Thus smoking of cigars needs to be discouraged.
• There is no justification to allow cigars to be exempt from plain packaging.