Imperial Tobacco ‘shocked’ by Health Canada’s proposed package regulations

Company says there are ‘a number of provisions that are basically impossible’

Imperial Tobacco says Health Canada’s proposed plain packaging regulations for cigarettes are confusing and warns it may have to go to court if changes aren’t made.

Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada, says his organization is “shocked and confused” by the proposed regulations.

“There’s a number of provisions that are basically impossible to comply with,” Gagnon said Monday.

Health Canada published its draft regulations last week and opened a 75-day consultation period for people to provide written submissions on its proposed changes to cigarette packages, which aim to make them drab, unattractive and unappealing to youth.

The proposed measures would also restrict how brand names are displayed and would require all tobacco packages to be the same colour.

“We still cannot understand how this government can justify legalizing marijuana while imposing such extreme measures on tobacco products. We feel that the discrepancy is really astonishing,” said Gagnon.

One of the regulations Gagnon is taking issue with is a proposal to axe flip-top packaging and return to old-school “slide-and-shell” packs — a change that would take at least two years because of a need to build new machines to retool for a new format.

READ MORE: Ottawa ushers in new rules for e-cigarettes

Meanwhile, he said, Health Canada is asking tobacco companies to comply with the new regulations six months after they come into force, a deadline he called “impossible.”

According to Health Canada, requiring every pack of cigarettes to have the same shape, size and opening could minimize their appeal to young people. Young adults in Australia, for instance, found wider packs similar to the Canadian slide-and-shell design less appealing than the flip-top version, the agency says.

Gagnon said Imperial Tobacco will raise its concerns during the consultation period and hopes they’re considered — otherwise it may have to go to court.

“Going to court with the government is never something that we want to do or something we take easily, but if we don’t get heard I think it’s one of the options that we will have to consider.”

Peter Luongo, managing director of Rothmans Benson & Hedges, said he’s meeting with officials from the Tobacco Control branch of Health Canada on Tuesday to tell them their timeline is “unrealistic.”

Luongo said there are not enough machines to make the new design and to support the market, so the timeline is “extremely tight, if not impossible.”

But his company’s primary concern is that Health Canada is prepared to insist plain packaging be applied to all tobacco products.

“The packaging will be the same and there are other provisions … that prohibit us from properly communicating the health differences between the products.”

Luongo said his organization would like to see anyone who uses nicotine switch to options that are less risky than cigarettes, such as so-called heat-not-burn products.

“We would like to get to a smoke-free future in Canada as quickly as possible and we’re just hopeful the regulations will support that vision.”

Meanwhile, the proposed regulations have health organizations cheering the federal government.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, called the changes “the best in the world.”

The consultations will run until Sept. 6, 2018.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A Tribe Called Red, Tanya Tagaq among artists featured in Indigenous music film

When They Awake coming to Stan Hagen Theatre for one night

CVRD moves to goal-setting stage for sewer service plan

Workshops planned for next week in Comox and Courtenay

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Comox connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Case of bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Most Read