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

Large suspected ammo found at Cassidy recycling facility

Area businesses voluntarily evacuated

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

UPDATE: Brush fire in Shawnigan likely caused by cigarette butt

They identified the area as being just after the turnoff to Sooke Lake Road

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

VIDEO: Life’s a beach at this B.C. sand sculpting contest

More than $50,000 was up for grabs at the annual contest held in Parksville

Most Read